Before Donald Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20, media speculation approached hysterical levels. Would it be like the Reagan-Gorbachev get-together at Reykjavik in 1986, or Chamberlain meeting Hitler in Munich in 1938?
Of course, it was like neither. Instead, the encounter was primarily for the leaders to take each other’s measure. This was especially important for Trump, given his opponents’ charges, with no evidence to date, that his campaign colluded with Russia to rig the 2016 election.
Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, reported afterwards that Trump opened the meeting by expressing “the concerns of Americans” about Russian election interference. Tillerson emphasized that the discussion was “robust and lengthy”, with Trump returning several times to Russia’s meddling.
Although we do not have Trump’s exact words, US critics immediately attacked him for not referring to his concerns about the intrusions. If Trump did speak broadly about Americans’ worries, he struck the right note. The US is essentially unanimous that no foreign intervention in our constitutional process is acceptable.
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