Reacting to what was truly a head-scratching and remarkable Helsinki summit, CNN continued to do what it does best, which is take a situation or performance by President Trump that’s not exactly being well-received and hyperventilate to the point where they’d lose people who would otherwise agree with them.
After AC360 host Anderson Cooper deemed the Trump-Putin press conference “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president,” the craziness continued with Cooper stating that “today is just an incredibly depressing moment in our time in our history as an American” while other panelists opined that it’s been a “surreal” day known as “the surrender summit.”
Talk about melodramatic.
Chief political correspondent Dana Bash joined with Cooper in wondering how could National Security Adviser John Bolton or DNI Director Dan Coats stay in their jobs since both hold views on Russia opposed to the President and thus they were thrown under the bus on Monday.
“I mean if you just kind of take a pause and think about that, and that's just one example. David Gergen is right, it's almost hard, all of us speak for a living, to put into words what we just saw and how astonishing it is,” she added.
Bash used her comments to also gush over the questions asked by U.S. reporters Jeff Mason of Reuters and Jonathan Lemire of the Associated Press. While one can make a decent case that both asked necessary questions that were better than anything Jim Acosta would have uttered, worshipping other journalists will never not be seen as a pompous act.
Chief political analyst Gloria Borger responded that “it was surreal” to watch with Trump “not blaming” Russia for its 2016 hackings. She later added that she “cannot say how astonishing it was to be sitting here and listening to a President equivocate, kind of like he did after Charlottesville” with both sides being to blame for the state of U.S.-Russia relations.
I think — yeah, certainly the President calls the reporters the enemy of the American people. As an American citizen, I just personally think today is just an incredibly depressing moment in our time in our history as an American. Former CIA director John Brennan just tweeted, and I quote: “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???” That is a very good question. What are Republicans on Capitol Hill, a co-equal branch of government, what are they going to be saying about what we have just witnessed and heard today?
Inside Politics host John King intervened around 12:15 p.m. Eastern and argued that we should remember this meeting as “the surrender summit,” which has left him “shaking my head like everyone else...because I've been here for 30 years” and he’s “have never seen an American president simply surrender to the leader of Russia.”
To see more CNN reactions from roughly 12:04 p.m. Eastern to 12:17 p.m. Eastern, check out the transcript below and click “expand.”
CNN’s Trump-Putin summit coverage
July 16, 2018
12:04 p.m. Eastern
ANDERSON COOPER: I mean, how can John Bolton remain in that position if he truly believes this country was attacked in an act of war and the man he's now working for clearly does not? Dana Bash is standing by as well. Dana, your thoughts.
DANA BASH: John Bolton is one. How about the President's own Director of National Intelligence, who the President of the United States effectively just threw under the bus in favor of the Russian President on an issue that has to do with Russia interfering in American elections. I mean if you just kind of take a pause and think about that, and that's just one example. David Gergen is right, it's almost hard, all of us speak for a living, to put into words what we just saw and how astonishing it is. I also just want to say, Anderson, beforehand you were questioning whether either of these men would go after a free press, they didn't and I think we saw — I know we saw a prime example of how we need a free press an what a free press can do. Jeff Mason with Reuters, the Associated Press reporter, they asked the questions of Vladimir Putin that had President of the United States failed to do and that is something. It is really something. You know, if there is an upside of having this summit aside from, you know, the basic idea of having diplomatic relations, it is the fact that they had this press conference and Vladimir Putin had to face real reporters and the one thing I also want to say is this is according to the transcript and we have to go back and listen to the translation. Jeff Mason followed up about whether or not Vladimir Putin directed his officials to help sway the election. Putin responded yes, I did. Yes, I did because he, the President, talked about bringing the U.S./Russia relationship back to normal. If this is accurate and if the translation is accurate and he understood the question accurately, he just stood there next to the president and admitted what we all know, admitted that the U.S. intelligence agencies, which unanimously say this is what happened, are right.
COOPER: Gloria Borger, Dana makes such an important point, that it was two American journalists who were asking — who were tougher to Vladimir Putin face to face than the president of the united States was.
GLORIA BORGER: Yeah. I mean the President — it was surreal to me, Anderson and the President is standing on the world stage next to Vladimir Putin and he is not blaming him for the things his intelligence agencies have told him that he's done. Also, by the way, I will tell you that what Putin did in a way was confirm what went on in that Trump Tower meeting with Don Jr. He started talking about Bill Browder and he started, you know, and the Magnitsky act, which is about adoptions. But he made, you know, he took on Browder, made it very clear that they had dirt on Browder who was, he says, allegedly funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to Hillary Clinton. So now we have a little bit more of an insight on the dirt that they were peddling to Don Jr. I cannot say how astonishing it was to be sitting here and listening to a President equivocate, kind of like he did after Charlottesville. He said, oh, you know, there are good people on both sides or bad people on both sides, whatever it was. This was a President not being able to get in front of himself and in front of his own election and blame — you know, blaming the Democratic National Committee for not having better servers or not locked up their servers, when Bob Mueller put out this indictment on Friday that was open and shut, full of detail, and then saying just as the cherry on the topping, to say oh, yeah, we'll have a joint cyber-security task force, which was already proposed, and then once thrown away or maybe, maybe as Putin said, maybe we'll meet with Mueller's people and we'll get involved in the American judicial system and the President sits there. I mean — I can't believe it.
COOPER: I think — yeah, certainly the President calls the reporters the enemy of the American people. As an American citizen, I just personally think today is just an incredibly depressing moment in our time —
COOPER: — in our history as an American. Former CIA director John Brennan just tweeted, and I quote: “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???” That is a very good question. What are Republicans on Capitol Hill, a co-equal branch of government, what are they going to be saying about what we have just witnessed and heard today?
12:10 p.m. Eastern
COOPER: David Gergen, you think of Ronald Reagan, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall, saying to Gorbachev, you know, trust but verify. I mean they're tossing the ball around to each other. There is nothing — there was absolutely no backbone publicly on the part of the president of the United States in the face of Vladimir Putin.
GERGEN: No. The central drama, we said again and again, coming into this summit was whether the President was going to hold Putin accountable as a price for coming back on the international stage and that was not only going to include questions of the interference in our elections, the effort to steal the election, but it was going to include the Crimea, it was going to include what's going on in Syria, it was going to include the poisonings in London. You go down that long list. You had that list earlier and as far as I can tell, he didn't hold them accountable for anything and there may be something I missed.
AMANPOUR: Well, no, you haven't basically on this accountability. What we've been talking about a lot, this me tooism or moral relativism, when asked about the foolish tweet, he doubled down and said I hold both countries responsible, we're all to blame, we should have had these conversations a long time ago, which is a Donald Trump-style. He did after Charlottesville. He did it after a whole load of things. It’s holding each side, including his own country responsible, fo for instance, the annexation of Crimea.
2 minutes and 33 seconds
JOHN KING: Well, I'm shaking my head like everyone else you've spoken to in the last 30 minutes or so because I've been here for 30 years. I came to Washington in the final months of the Reagan administration and I have never seen an American president simply surrender to the leader of Russia. You should call this the surrender summit. To that point there, he could have said we're not going to resolve what happened in 2016. President Putin says he didn't do it, but I'm here to say if this happens on my watch, there will be sanctions, there will penalties, there will be hell to pay. That's all the president had to say to stand up at least for the current actions but he didn't do that. I'll repeat what everyone else said. He never specifically mentioned Ukraine, he didn't mention the nerve agent attacks in the U.K., he didn't mention the anniversary of the MH-17 airliner being shot down and not only that, he stood there while Vladimir Putin said let's work together on cyber-security, insert laughter here. Let's work together on transnational crime. Let's insert laughter, ludicrous, here and he also said — stood there while Vladimir Putin voiced compassion for Syrian refugees. Russia is as responsible as anybody on this planet for the Syrian refugee crisis and the President of the United States stood there and let him sound like a voice of compassion when he is a leader who has been a sponsor of reprehensible conduct.
COOPER: I come back to the panel. He sat in the chair of Winston Churchill in London just the other day, was photographed, outraged many in London about that, a man who stood up to — to the worst forms of aggression. His own national security advisor has said this was an attack on American democracy and he completely slunk away.
AMANPOUR: Well, he did. I mean, he really did. You're going to have many, many, many days, weeks and months of analysis on this. But to John's point about Syria, insert laughter here, I mean, it is an absolute disgrace. It's a parody of a disgrace that and particularly since the two of them, both presidents did talk in very elliptical ways about this bizarre deal that may be being cooked up over Syria to protect Israel, insert what other people have been potentially saying, that they will let this butcher, Bashar al-Assad, stay if they can figure out how to prevent Iran from threatening Syria — Israel rather. That's what is apparently in the works. So the idea that they're now — and Putin has done this for years. The poor people of Syria, we'll help them out, humanitarian. I mean, it's Putin who stood in the way, along with his clients in Syria, of any kind of resolution, including a political resolution.