Flake: Concerned what Trump could promise Putin

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) tells CNN's Dana Bash what his advice to President Trump would be when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Posted: Jul 9, 2018 12:21 PM
Updated: Jul 9, 2018 12:21 PM

President Donald Trump is heading this week to Europe where he'll struggle to find historic friends of his country he has yet to alienate. As Trump departs Tuesday for Brussels, his record has made him the skunk sauntering into the garden party. This is how it goes with the President.

In one moment he's sowing chaos among America's most important allies. In the next, he's saying Russia's Vladimir Putin is "fine" as he anticipates a cozy private chat with man who waged cyberwar on the 2016 election and threatens to do it again.

In the chaos of the Trump presidency, it's easy to get diverted by his routine efforts to distract and deflect. At the noisy rally last week where he dismissed concerns about Putin, the President also tossed out a casual racist taunt about Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The insult gave the faithful something to cheer and diverted attention from the dubious policies the President has practiced abroad. However, world leaders, especially America's friends, must be keeping score. The tally includes:

  • Mounting a sudden trade war with the European Union.
  • Diminishing chances for Middle East peace by abruptly moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
  • Abandoning a nuclear weapons control agreement with Iran, which European signatories favored.
  • Trying to entice France to abandon the European Union.
  • Undermining the NATO alliance, which he has called "obsolete"
  • Using the last meeting of economic leaders -- the G7 -- to sourly complain about how they each took advantage of the United States.
  • Accepting a photo op with Kim Jong Un instead of true reductions in North Korea's nuclear arms.
  • Attacking German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government on Twitter.
  • Poking Britain about its crime rate while the US struggles with a gun violence problem that is the worst in the world.
  • Pushing the G7 to bring Russia back into the fold after it was banished for invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea.

In Belgium, he'll attend a NATO gathering where other members of the alliance might reflect on how often he complains about the cost of the alliance and muses about its usefulness. Previous US presidents have pushed the allies to spend more on defense to support NATO, but only Trump has whined like a child who doesn't understand why his chores are more demanding than his little brother's.

According to a reliable source, he recently complained that NATO is "as bad as NAFTA," the North American trade agreement, which he considers anathema to US interests. Missing from this perspective is NATO's 70-year record of advancing democracy, trade, and security as the most successful alliance in history.

From Brussels it will be on to Britain where ordinary citizens are so upset about the President's manner and policies that he will be greeted by protests at every stop. A giant "angry baby" Trump balloon will float over London, where tens of thousands are expected to march, and a "carnival of resistance" is set for Edinburgh. Protest organizers are delighted by the fact that Trump will not make official public appearances in major population centers, noting that he will "stay hidden away in country estates and castles."

Trump has earned much of Europe's disdain through his attacks on the NATO alliance, which threaten the stability of Western democracies in the face of Russian threats, and his boorish behavior toward leaders such as Merkel. The UN human rights office in Geneva has condemned Trump's policies on the US border with Mexico, where he has separated thousands of children from asylum-seeking parents. And all across Europe, his decision to sit down with Putin has set heads to wagging, especially as Great Britain confronts a new and fatal case of poisoning apparently involving a nerve agent made in Russia.

The Trump/Putin meeting with happen in Finland at the end of his European trip and, shades of Trump/Kim in Singapore, it will include a private session with just the two men and their translators. When he met with Kim, Trump appalled military experts by pledging to stop joint exercises with South Korea. What's to keep him from making similar unilateral concessions to the Russians, who don't like it when NATO has war games in Poland or the Baltics?

Putin, a former KGB agent who has played Trump masterfully, should be delighted to see the President even if Europe is not. (A recent poll put Trump's approval rate in Europe at 23%.)

A pariah from the day he ordered the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Putin is a ruthless autocrat whose opponents wind up dead. Most recently he has begun to mouth conspiracy theories about the so-called "Deep State" and "Fake News" that supposedly threaten Trump. It seems Putin has noted the President's insecurities and is manipulating him by signaling that he agrees with Trump's nonsense.

Whether Putin is rescuing the bloody dictator Assad in Syria or disrupting elections in the West, he's transgressive in a way that should make Trump fearful. Yet the President's kindness toward the Russians had been persistent and peculiar. Reluctant to call out Putin in strong terms, he has done little to organize a defense against future election meddling.

Consider the President's decision to meet privately with the Russian strong man, and it's easy to imagine the two men hatching a plan for mutual support that would betray the Western alliance that America has led since the start of the Cold War. No matter what they get up to, the one thing we do know is that the truth of what they say to each other may never be known.

According to some sources, Russia is already seeking to disrupt the 2018 elections. All seems to be working according to Putin's plan, and as the President continues to put himself, if not America, first, it'll be up to others to stop him.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 818652

Reported Deaths: 15378
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1147091924
Mobile724971336
Madison52231697
Shelby37575349
Baldwin37224549
Tuscaloosa35073612
Montgomery34092739
Lee23519246
Calhoun22221482
Morgan20910378
Etowah19816498
Marshall18338303
Houston17360412
St. Clair16034339
Cullman15406293
Limestone15328199
Elmore15186286
Lauderdale14270295
Talladega13827281
DeKalb12637261
Walker11180370
Blount10179176
Autauga9967148
Jackson9860183
Coffee9205191
Dale8884185
Colbert8840201
Tallapoosa7079198
Escambia6766132
Covington6706183
Chilton6633161
Russell635259
Franklin5959105
Chambers5607142
Marion4995126
Dallas4949200
Pike4791105
Clarke475484
Geneva4568127
Winston4507103
Lawrence4309117
Bibb424686
Barbour357576
Marengo337890
Monroe331463
Randolph329864
Butler325896
Pickens315682
Henry311966
Hale311188
Cherokee302360
Fayette292379
Washington251351
Cleburne247460
Crenshaw244875
Clay243068
Macon234163
Lamar223347
Conecuh185953
Coosa180040
Lowndes174764
Wilcox168739
Bullock151644
Perry138340
Sumter132938
Greene126644
Choctaw88227
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Clear cool and dry to begin your weekend, but both afternoons should be a little bit above what we expect for this time of year temperature wise. Rain chances begin to return late Sunday night, with at least two chances for storms over the next week, summer could be strong.
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