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After the president's Helsinki press conference with Vlad the Poisoner, in which President Trump refused to back American intelligence agencies that claim Russian interference in the 2016 elections, some politicians and their spokesflacks back on these shores were heard from.

Here is a sampling gathered from several accounts, including the papers and those ubiquitous Twitter accounts:

"I strongly disagree w/ statement that Russia did not meddle in 2016 election. With all I have seen on House Intel Comm & additional indictments of 12 Russian officers last week, it is clear Russia's intentions. President Trump missed opportunity to hold Putin publicly accountable."

"There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world. That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence."

"The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy."

"Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections. This answer by President Trump will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves."

"I don't know [whether] the President is trying to use some sort of carrots and stick approach with Putin but I believe the intelligence community."

"I am confident former CIA Director and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats, Ambassador Nikki Haley, FBI Director Chris Wray, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others will be able to communicate to the President it is possible to conclude Russia interfered with our election in 2016 without delegitimizing his electoral success."

"Russia is not our friend."

All the statements above were made by Republicans. From the speaker of the House to the Senate majority leader to allies of the president, they--nearly to a man--said they fundamentally disagreed with the president, and many noted he shouldn't have taken sides with that former KGB agent over America's own intelligence services. Not in public. Not on foreign soil. And all that criticism doesn't even include every one of Arkansas' congressional delegation--all members of the president's party--who came out earlier this week disagreeing with the president's (initial) take on Russia.

Even Fox News, believe it or not, led with the Trump-faces-bipartisan-criticism story Monday. Drudge led with this: "Putin Dominates in Hel." Newt Gingrich, who has backed up Donald Trump time and again, called the press conference the most serious mistake in this presidency. Call this a message sent.

For his next step, the president, after watching all the chaos on TV, decided Tuesday that he didn't mean any of it--and took the exact opposite approach with the exact opposite language and sent the exact opposite message about Russia and Vladimir Vladimirovich. Which was good.

Unfortunately, the president isn't practiced at admitting mistakes. Those pesky bone spurs kept him out of the military as a younger man, or else he might have learned a valuable lesson that the United States military--with the help of first sergeants--teaches on a daily basis:

Say "No excuse"--sir or sergeant--then move on. That is, apologize and quit talking, soldier.

Instead, on Wednesday, the day after walking back his words at Helsinki, the president began backtracking on his backtracking. As he put it: "So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki."

We'd ask him to name just one.

Hold on, America. It's going to continue to be a bumpy ride.

Editorial on 07/19/2018

Print Headline: Summit from Hel

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