Donald Trump’s Thursday speech in Poland included an appeal for Russia to stop “destabilizing” actions and end its support for Syria and Iran. However, his visit to Russia’s neighborhood also included expressions of doubt about the American intelligence community and continued his attack on the “fake news” of the American press.
During the speech, Trump briefly called out Russia but made no direct mention of the Russian issue that’s dominated his regime to date. In an interview earlier in the day, Trump admitted that Russia was “most likely” involved but maintained that “nobody knew” if Russia was involved or if they were the sole source of interference.
“It could well have been other countries. I won’t be specific. …
Barack Obama when he was president found out about it, he found out in August. He did nothing. They say he choked.”
Most of Trump’s speech was devoted to attacking his favorite target, Islamic extremists, which he painted as an existential threat to the the continuation of “civilization itself.” Trump compared “oppressive ideology” of terrorists to that of the Nazis, and wondered whether the West had the “will to survive.” He went on to couch this fight against extremism in language that was nothing less than extreme.
“Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”
In his speech, delivered to mostly cheers from a bused-in, hand selected audience, Trump praised the free press. However, in his interview Trump continued his attack on “fake news” and sat by as Polish President Andrzej Duda announced that he was restricting press access to the Polish parliament.
On balance, Vladimir Putin had to be pleased with Trump’s performance. Russia got a brief rebuke in the speech, but Trump made it clear that America’s focus was elsewhere.
Meanwhile, in the interview, Trump’s visit to the neighborhood included attacks on the free press and Barack Obama, expressions of doubt about the United States intelligence community, and an acceptance that “nobody knows” the truth about Russia’s actions.