Russian President Vladimir Putin hands U.S. President Donald Trump (L) a World Cup football during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland. Photo: Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin hands U.S. President Donald Trump (L) a World Cup football during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland. Photo: Getty Images

Forget the Cold War, the decades of spying, and the Kremlin’s demonizing of America. Put aside Russia’s long history of invading neighboring countries, backing totalitarian regimes, and murdering political foes or shipping them off to starve and freeze in Siberia. Just shove all that to the back of the closet and act as if you’ve never known about it, like that Heisenberg hat you wore five years ago. Because in a jaw-dropping press conference standing right beside Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump made it clear: If Putin says it’s not his fault, that should be good enough for everyone.

What’s more, President Trump said – perhaps to the surprise of even his MAGA crowd – if there is any problem between the U.S. and Russia, “We’re all to blame.” On Twitter, he expanded: “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt.”

Putin and Trump: The Bromance of the Century?

Let that sink in. Last week President Trump tore into America’s NATO allies - countries whose citizens have stood by American soldiers in combat – and this week he is cozying up to Putin like it’s the bromance of the century. Never mind that Trump’s own intelligence community has unequivocally accused the Russians of interfering in the 2016 elections with the intent of helping Trump. “It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe,” Trump said with Putin smirking at his elbow. “I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

Vladimir Putin

 

It went further. Did he publicly smack Putin for the invasion of Crimea? Nope. Did he raise questions about Putin’s foes who are showing up mysteriously dead in foreign countries? No. Did he come away with any detailed commitments to a new nuclear deal, a path to Syrian peace, or…well, anything? Maybe he didn’t have time, what with the soccer ball passing and singing the latest chorus of “How I Beat Hillary.”

Putin’s take on his meetings with Trump is simple. “He defends the interests of the United States of America, and I defend the interests of the Russian Federation.” But after this latest display you can have no doubt, for many Trump critics that assessment is only half right.