Let’s be honest, the Democrats would have considered anything short of President Trump physically assaulting Russian president Putin as a disastrous presidential performance in Friday’s meeting between the two leaders.
President Trump did not punch out the Russian leader nor did he twist Putin’s are behind his back until the Russian admitted the election interference and cried uncle. However he did press him on Russian interference in the 2016 American election, and was supposed to be a 30-45 minute meeting lasted 135 minutes. the meeting ran so long that at one point First Lady Melania Trump poked her head into the meeting to try to get her husband back on his schedule. Per Secretary of State Tillerson, It didn’t work; the meeting continued for another hour.
The first encounter between the new US President and the Russian leader seemed to be a success; it resulted in a path forward in Syria, steps to avoid any new Russian interference in elections, began a discussion of North Korea, and it was the beginning of a relationship between the two leaders (an important step for the two biggest nuclear powers in the world).
Trump began the meeting with a discussion about Russian interference with the election. As Tillerson explained in his post-meeting presser:
The president opened the meeting with president Putin by raising the concerns of the American people regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election. They had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject. The president pressed president Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement. President Putin denied such involvement as I think he has in the past. The leaders agree that this is a substantial issue in the ability to move the Russia-U.S. relationship forward and agreed to exchange further work regarding commitments of noninterference and affairs of the United States and our democratic process as well as other countries.
When asked if the President laid out consequences should the Russians try to interfere with our electoral system again, Tillerson added:
The president took note of actions that have been discussed by congress, to make it clear as
to the seriousness of the issue. I think what the president’s– I think rightly focused on is how you move forward, how do we move forward from here?
It is not clear to me that we will ever come to some agreed-upon resolution of that question between the nations. The question is, what do we do now? I think the relationship and the president made this clear as well. It is too important to not find a way to move forward. Not dismissing the issue in any way, I don’t want to leave you with that impression. That is why we have agreed to continue engagement and discussion around how we secure a commitment the Russian government has no intention of. and will not interfere in our affairs and the affairs of others. How do we create a framework in which we have some capability to judge what is happening in the world and who to hold accountable?
This is obviously an issue that is just broader with the U.S. And Russia but certainly we see a manifestation of that threat and the events of last year. I think the president is rightly focused on how we move forward from what may be disagreement at this point.
In other words rather than spending the rest of their meeting with Trump saying “yes you did,” and Putin countering “no I didn’t,” the two moved on to discuss how to proceed from there. The two sides did agree to set up a working group begin the framework agreement around the cyber issue and the issue of of noninterference in internal affairs…