Horowitz: Trump’s Mishandling of Putin Meeting Worsens his Russia Problems

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


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Rob Horowitz

“Disastrous” was Senator Lindsey Graham’s(R-SC) description on Meet the Press this past Sunday of President Trump’s recent meeting with Russian President Vladmir Putin. I don’t know if I would go quite that far, but taken together, President Trump’s ill-advised answers to media questions the day before, the meeting itself, and his series of contradictory and foolish tweets the day after only worsened his mounting Russia problems. More importantly, it further emboldened Putin to continue his reckless interference in elections in the United States and around the world.

Graham went on to aptly summarize the consequences of Trump’s continuing to raise doubts where none truly exist about whether or not Russia meddled in the 2016 Presidential election : “The more (Trump) he talks about not being sure, the more he throws our intelligence community under the bus, the more he’s willing to forgive and forget, the more suspicion.” 

Our intelligence community and everyone besides Trump, including his own national security team and senior Republican members of Congress who have looked at the intelligence, is certain that through hacking the DNC, orchestrating the release of the hacked emails, and a comprehensive effort to spread misinformation about Hillary Clinton through social media, Russia aggressively meddled in the 2016 Presidential election. Even more disturbing, the Russians attempted to penetrate state voter data bases.    

This is what makes Trump’s repeated attempts to cast doubt so highly damaging to his credibility.  The fact that he did so once again the day before he met with Putin when answering questions in a joint-presser with the Polish President was especially confounding and counter-productive. While on foreign soil, Trump attacked his own intelligence agencies, pointing out they were wrong about weapons of destruction in Iraq 15 years ago, and asserting that meant they could be wrong about Russian meddling now. This further limited any leverage he may have had left to credibly confront Putin on the hacking issue. Then after bringing Russian interference up in the meeting, he was ambiguous in tweets afterwards as to whether he believed Putin’s predictable denials. Also, before withdrawing the idea due to nearly universal ridicule, President Trump, Secretary of State Tillerson and Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin, actually tried to sell a joint Russian-United States cyber-security effort as a tangible accomplishment stemming from the meeting.

Most telling was President Trump and Secretary Tillerson’s failed efforts to convince people that now that Trump had brought the subject up with Putin, it was time to move on to what in their view are clearly more important topics. Putin must be made to pay a price for his direct attack on our democracy in order to deter him from continuing to do so. That is not just my view; that is the view of an overwhelming majority of Americans and most Republican members of Congress. After all, tough new sanctions on Russia just passed the Senate nearly unanimously.  By their naked attempt to dispose of the issue, Trump and Tillerson wiped away any credit Trump would have gotten for actually bringing Russian interference up directly with Putin.

Seemingly viewing any conversation about Russian interference in our elections as detracting from the impressiveness of his 2016 win, Trump’ ego continues to override good sense and sound political strategy, and that is before we even get to the best interests of our nation.  In Europe this past weekend, he made the bad situation he has created for himself, even worse.

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.


Related Slideshow: RI Democrats React to Trump Withdrawing from Paris Climate Agreement

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Gina Raimondo

RI Governor

I am deeply disappointed that the President has decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize that the Paris Agreement is about so much more than climate change. It’s about opportunity, stewardship and America’s standing as a global leader. 

President Trump’s action will not deter Rhode Island from taking necessary steps to address climate change. Our action at the state level will create new jobs and attract new investment in the green economy. 

We’ve set a goal to secure 1,000 MW of clean energy resources and double the number of clean energy jobs by 2020. Ocean State families and businesses are on the front lines fighting climate change. I will continue toward with the General Assembly and partners in other states to protect our environment and advance clean energy alternatives, while creating new opportunities for our workforce in the process. 

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Jim Langevin 

U.S. Congressman

President Trump’s ill-considered decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement puts the future of our entire planet at risk. The withdrawal represents an abandonment of pledges to protect our environment and risks undermining the entire accord, which includes nearly every country on earth. In addition, the President’s action cedes Unites States leadership and means losing a seat at the table to negotiate global agreements in our country's best interest.

The Obama Administration made significant progress toward slowing the rapidly warming climate by negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions on a global scale. Unwinding these commitments represents another assault by President Trump on the health of the public and the planet. His Administration continues to deny climate change despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that shows this is an ongoing human-caused crisis.

Rhode Island is on the front lines of sea level rise, and our citizens will ultimately pay the price for inaction today. Communities like my hometown of Warwick are particularly vulnerable to the storms and floods that come with climate change. Warming seas have chased our traditional catch out of our fisheries and threaten to decimate our beloved Ocean State coastline. Abandoning the Paris deal, the culmination of a multi-year effort by world leaders, is an abdication of our responsibility to leave the world a better place for our children.”

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Sheldon Whitehouse

U.S. Senator

“Donald Trump and his children said just a few years ago that climate change was ‘irrefutable’ and its consequences ‘catastrophic and irreversible.’ They were right. There is no denying the growing threat of rising seas, warming global temperatures, and melting glaciers and ice sheets. 

But we can still avoid the worst if we quickly reduce carbon emissions. That is why ignoring reality and leaving the Paris Agreement could do down as one of the worst foreign policy blunders in our nation’s history, isolating the U.S. further after Trump’s shockingly bad European trip. 

Trump is betraying the country, in the service of Breitbart fake news, the shameless fossil fuel industry, and the Koch brothers’ climate denial operation. It’s Sad. 

America’s biggest corporations and investors urged the President to stick with international efforts to address the climate threat. They and all of us will now have to proceed with a seriousness of purpose commensurate with the threat, knowing of this President’s grave defects. 

If you haven’t joined an environmental group, join one. If your voice needs to be heard, get active. If you are a big corporation with good climate policies that has shied away from engaging politically, it’s time to engage. And if you’re a university that teaches climate science, it’s time to stand up for your scientists. Whoever you are, help end climate denial and take action.”

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Jack Reed

U.S. Senator

“President Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris climate agreement is a blow to the environment that makes us a less secure nation. Our military, which spends every hour of every day thinking about how to protect Americans says climate change is a problem and a real threat multiplier. Indeed, climate change is an established part of the military’s threat and risk assessments.

The United States should continue to be a leader when it comes to protecting the planet; instead, the President is abdicating this responsibility. President Trump is unwisely putting the United States alongside Syria and Nicaragua in declining to be part of the Paris agreement. 

The American people deserve better.” 

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David Cicilline

U.S. Congressman

The President’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is a terrible mistake. It will diminish American leadership in the world, undermine our ability to create good-paying jobs, and contribute to the further degradation of our environment. 

It is very disappointing that we now know, without question, that the President of the United Sates is a climate change denier. His decision today ignores the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding the serious consequences failing to address climate change. 

The only thing President Trump will accomplish by this decision is to set the United States and world back decades in this fight. I have no doubt that future generations are going to wonder what the hell we were thinking today”


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