Anderson Cooper: Trump performance disgraceful

After a joint news conference with President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, CNN's Anderson Cooper called Trump's performance "disgraceful."

Posted: Jul 17, 2018 12:37 PM
Updated: Jul 17, 2018 12:37 PM

Since the Second World War -- spanning 14 US presidents, Republican and Democratic -- the occupant of the Oval Office has been referred to as "the leader of the free world." Until now.

And though, on Monday, Vice President Mike Pence stated after the Helsinki summit that President Donald Trump "stands without apology as leader of the free world," his words could not be further from the truth.

Over his 18 months in office, Trump has surrendered that mantle without a mandate to do so. Trump's impulse is to echo Russian President Vladimir Putin's talking points and advance his agenda, even as elements of his administration attempt to push back to protect longstanding American interests.

Time and again the world has witnessed what journalist Luke Harding describes in his book "Collusion" as Trump's "weirdly deferential behavior toward Putin -- his singular reluctance to criticize, his boundless willingness to appease, his desire for face time."

This past week offered new lows in this shameful dance on the world stage, capped by what Anderson Cooper diagnosed as a "disgraceful" performance at Helsinki, in which Trump was more critical of Democrats and his own Justice Department than of Putin or Russia.

In the days before his largely unsupervised chat with Putin in Helsinki, Trump attacked our NATO allies at a Belgian summit, suggesting the US could "go our own way." He nonsensically blamed President Barack Obama for Russia's invasion of Crimea, insulted German Chancellor Angela Merkel, undercut embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May over Brexit and described the European Union as a "foe" of the United States.

After his own Justice Department indicted 12 more Russian agents for interfering in his favor in the 2016 election, Trump again attacked the investigation as a "rigged witch hunt" and blamed American "foolishness and stupidity" for our bad relationship with Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry tweeted with cold approval: "We agree."

This litany of insults is surreal and not a little bit sinister. But we can't say we weren't warned. After all, the 2017 US Intelligence Assessment on Russian activities and intentions in the 2016 elections made it clear that "the Kremlin sought to advance its longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, the promotion of which Putin and other senior Russian leaders view as a threat to Russia and Putin's regime."

This Russian desire has been met with unexpected ardor from the American President.

This love-that-dare-not-speak-its-name was again apparent at the press conference after the Helsinki meeting, when Trump went off-teleprompter to echo his post-Charlottesville script, declaring "both countries accountable" for US-Russia tensions and again denied the validity of the Mueller investigation, calling it baseless and "ridiculous."

Trump took the unprecedented step of taking the word of an autocratic leader of a hostile foreign power over his own Director of National Intelligence, stating that he did not see "any reason why it would be" Russia who hacked the DNC servers. This was music to Putin's ears, who grinned like a cat digesting a canary, while stating, "we have to be guided by facts and not by rumors."

The most innocent explanation for Trump's determined outbursts -- and his disconnect from broader bipartisan American policy interests -- is that he has isolationist instincts and admires authoritarian leaders. But that marks something much more dangerous than simply a disruption of the status quo.

Some might ask whether Trump's imagined new world order really represents a threat to American values. Only if you believe in individual rights, civil liberties and the strength of multi-lateral liberal democratic coalitions as a bulwark against ethno-nationalist autocracy.

Amid all the upheaval, it's worth remembering that Trump won the election with just under 78,000 votes in three states -- Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. It is unlikely that those voters were betting on an abandonment of American values in favor Russian interests.

What is equally stunning is the spinelessness of Republican leaders in standing up for the principles their party has stood for from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan to both George Bushes. This is not a president who cares about advancing a "freedom agenda."

Senate Republicans willing to stand up to the President's worst instincts are an endangered species: John McCain is battling brain cancer; Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are not running for re-election; Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio are willing to pipe up when the insults to the Reagan Legacy are particularly egregious and only Ben Sasse is a consistent Senate critic from a rising generation.

Many others recognize the danger, but are unwilling to take on their base by criticizing the President in public. Whatever short-term political expediency they gain will represent a lasting stain on their name.

Helsinki will be remembered, in the words of John King, as "the surrender summit." The defining fight of our time will be to defend diverse liberal democracy at home and abroad -- and we will have to do it without the help of this American President.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 350070

Reported Deaths: 7590
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds24512449
DeSoto23513283
Harrison21172335
Rankin15798293
Jackson15735254
Madison11171227
Lee10903180
Jones9223169
Forrest9027163
Lauderdale8087244
Lamar724890
Lowndes7199152
Lafayette6631125
Washington5661140
Pearl River5357154
Oktibbeha503198
Bolivar5004134
Warren4817128
Panola4812112
Marshall4739106
Pontotoc452473
Hancock440388
Neshoba4401181
Union438979
Monroe4369138
Lincoln4228116
Pike3739114
Leflore3676125
Alcorn355374
Tate354988
Sunflower351094
Adams347490
Scott346677
Yazoo342977
Copiah330869
Simpson327191
Itawamba317281
Coahoma315685
Tippah312869
Prentiss302563
Covington302384
Marion289882
Leake288676
Wayne280945
George277351
Grenada272188
Newton266864
Tishomingo240770
Winston238084
Stone235338
Jasper234748
Attala228674
Chickasaw221460
Holmes202574
Clay201954
Clarke189580
Tallahatchie185642
Calhoun183232
Smith183036
Yalobusha173641
Walthall150449
Lawrence145426
Greene141935
Amite139144
Noxubee137235
Perry136138
Montgomery133944
Carroll127031
Webster124332
Jefferson Davis119834
Tunica116127
Benton107825
Claiborne105931
Kemper104429
Humphreys102333
Franklin88424
Quitman86319
Choctaw83119
Wilkinson79332
Jefferson72228
Sharkey51918
Issaquena1746
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 592417

Reported Deaths: 11542
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson861091591
Mobile49771865
Madison37714533
Shelby27501259
Tuscaloosa27344465
Montgomery26343628
Baldwin25860329
Lee17336181
Calhoun15498334
Morgan15225291
Etowah15060370
Marshall13198236
Houston12191293
Elmore10977219
St. Clair10852252
Limestone10816158
Cullman10610206
Lauderdale10305254
DeKalb9594192
Talladega9005188
Walker7840288
Autauga7615114
Jackson7431117
Blount7417139
Colbert6752142
Coffee6443132
Dale5723117
Russell482243
Chilton4810117
Covington4804125
Franklin462781
Tallapoosa4571156
Escambia451083
Chambers3987125
Dallas3751163
Clarke372263
Marion3470107
Pike334079
Lawrence3277100
Winston300773
Bibb292865
Geneva288383
Marengo262967
Barbour253761
Pickens247762
Butler242472
Hale236778
Fayette228165
Henry216545
Monroe204541
Randolph202844
Cherokee200748
Washington186839
Macon171552
Crenshaw170658
Clay167159
Cleburne161845
Lamar151938
Lowndes146255
Wilcox132331
Bullock126542
Conecuh122132
Coosa119529
Perry111228
Sumter110633
Greene99337
Choctaw64425
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