An unnamed White House source is claiming President Donald Trump ignored the advice given to him by his advisors ahead of his press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland on Monday. Trump’s comments at the media event were “very much counter to the plan,” the source said.
‘Very much counter to the plan’: How Trump ended up ignoring his advisers and embracing Putin https://t.co/H4a60OafKi
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 17, 2018
The president was given nearly 100 pages of briefing materials prior to his meeting with Putin, according to reporting from the Washington Post.
A second person familiar with the preparations said “everyone around Trump” had expected the president to have reviewed the information and take a tough stance against Putin on issues like election meddling and the annexation of Crimea, Ukraine.
The person said Trump “made a game-time decision” to blame the United States for the decline in American-Russian relations.
Wake up America! America first could quickly become America last.
— Francois Messier (@Messier1505) July 17, 2018
“I think that the United States has been foolish,” Trump said of tensions between the two nations. “I think we’ve all been foolish. We should’ve had this dialogue a long time ago; a long time, frankly, before I got to office.”
One senior White House official revealed Trump held several briefing sessions prior to his meeting with Putin but chose to ignore his advisors and briefing materials.
This was especially apparent in the president’s remarks about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
When asked by a reporter if he believed Russia attacked our election, Trump acknowledged the unanimous conclusions of American intelligence agencies but sided with Putin, who Trump said was “strong and powerful in his denial.”
“They said they think it’s Russia; I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia,” Trump told reporters as he stood just six feet from Putin. “I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be. I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
Fact Checker: The facts missing from Trump and Putin’s news conference https://t.co/M3GlFyC6Xz
— Post Politics (@postpolitics) July 17, 2018
“The president has been more reluctant than most to weigh into the idea that Russia did it and they’re still doing it,” said Senator Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). “He felt that would undermine his own election.”
Putin even admitted he wanted Trump to win the election, though he maintained his denial of having anything to with attempts to disrupt America democracy.
Trump’s off-script performance included regurgitating conspiracy theories about a supposed missing hacked DNC server and Hillary Clinton’s emails.
“Where are those servers?” Trump asked. “Where are Hillary Clinton’s emails?”
Trump then reminded everybody that he beat Clinton in the 2016 race, fueling speculation over whether his denial of Russian election interference is a projection of his own insecurity about his legitimacy as president.
“I beat Hillary Clinton easily … We won that race,” Trump boasted. “And it’s a shame that there can even be a little bit of a cloud over it … We ran a brilliant campaign and that’s why I’m president.”
At one point, Putin gifted Trump with a soccer ball, which critics said could be bugged.
Finally, if it were me, I’d check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 16, 2018
Putin's soccer ball gift to Trump may be bugged, or worse — and the US may never know https://t.co/vCuNzLNQAQ
— Business Insider (@businessinsider) July 17, 2018
— Analytics News (@analyticsprnews) July 17, 2018
But according to the Post, six White House officials came forward to discuss the events leading up to Monday’s Trump-Putin fiasco. Sources said Trump’s strange behavior began over the weekend while the president played golf at his resort in Turnberry, Scotland.