All three networks broke in with live coverage of the presidential press conference in Helsinki, Finland this morning, as President Trump met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. After setting the stage with pessimistic predictions and whining during their morning shows today, ABC broke in shortly before to compare Trump to Obama and Hillary Clinton, arguing that they were much tougher on Russia than Trump has been. Jonathan Karl even quoted a factually untrue smear tweet from an Obama official and used it to play up the former president’s record with Putin.
About twenty minutes before the press conference started, anchor George Stephanopoulos reported live from Finland, rehashing Democrats’ complaints about Trump and stressing that he didn’t bring up election meddling during the brief public meeting earlier. Turning to Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, he touted former Obama official John Brennan’s “questions” for the president. Karl read the smear tweet from Brennan, noting it wasn’t exactly true, but amazingly using the false tweet to hype how great Obama was on calling out Vladimir Putin:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The president facing questions back home, including from John Brennan, about why he met alone with Vladimir Putin and whether they can be trusted.
JON KARL: It's highly unusual to have the American president to sit with a foreign head of state one on one. John Brennan, CIA director for Barack Obama, tweeted “why did Trump meet one on one with Putin, what might he will hiding from Bolton, Pompeo, Kelly, and the American public?” It's interesting George, Barack Obama did actually meet one on one with Putin as well. It was in September of 2016. A much briefer encounter. It was when he directly confronted Putin on the evidence they were just beginning to see that the Russians were attempting to interfere with the U.S. elections. So it has happened. And President Trump from time to time, does meet one on one. He met of course as you remember with Kim Jong-un one on one as well.
The ABC anchor gushed over the “famous” picture of Obama, “looking sternly at Vladimir Putin,” adding that Obama also cancelled a meeting with the Russian leader in 2013 after learning he was protecting Edward Snowden.
Karl then did actually acknowledge that President Trump’s policies were “much tougher” on Russia than the Obama administration’s were. But Karl slammed Trump for not using his words to match his policies:
Over and over again, the president's words seem to run counter to the policies of his own government when it comes to Russia. George, if you look at the Trump administration's policies towards Russia, you could argue, and argue persuasively, that he's been tougher on Russia in terms of the policies of this administration than the Obama administration. They have sold lethal weapons to Ukraine. Something Obama refused to do. They’ve imposed a whole range of new sanctions on individuals and entities in Russia. Twice air strikes against Russia ally Syria. Something that Obama refused to do. You have the policies of the administration standing in stark contrast to the words of the president who seems to be incapable of unwilling to say anything whatsoever critical of Vladimir Putin's Russia.
But it wasn’t just our former president the ABC team used to bash our current president. They even appealed to failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as someone who would’ve done a better job at this summit, than Trump.
Touting liberal conspiracy theories, World News Tonight anchor David Muir and Stephanopoulos gushed about how Putin “went after” Clinton, trying to get her to lose, because she “stood up” to him in 2011. “Vladimir Putin never really got over that,” Muir hyped. Stephanopoulos even claimed that Putin went in “aggressively” to “help Trump win” the election.
DAVID MUIR: You know, the shadow of the 2016 election hangs over this--looms large here George, As you know. One of the reasons, that Vladimir Putin went after Hillary Clinton in the way that he did and the Russians intervening the way they did, meddling, had a lot to do with Hillary Clinton standing up to Putin about fair and free elections back in 2011. If you remember the protests in Russia. Vladimir Putin never really got over that. He pointed a lot of the blame to Hillary Clinton for speaking up about that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Right, and that's why our intelligence agencies concluded that at the beginning Vladimir Putin decided he wanted to hurt Hillary Clinton and they discovered as they got closer to the election, Donald Trump might actually have a chance to win,and then they moved in more aggressively trying to help him win.
Later on speaking to a Russian specialist, Stephanopoulos again repeated that Putin had succeeded in his “goal” by “helping elect” Trump as President.
“We know his goal, by interfering in our elections, was to hurt Hillary Clinton, help elect Donald Trump. So he's already had two substantial victories,” he gushed.