Senator John McCain writes:
Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate.
President Trump threw the U.S. under the bus, refusing to acknowledge the threat to our democracy as well as the importance of law and order. When he stood next to Vladimar Putin and said he believed Putin’s claim that Putin did not mess with our election, instead of believing the FBI report that was released prior to his trip, Trump disregarded it, and instead believed the man against whom the accusation was made–as if Putin’s word was more weighty than an entire FBI investigation and the conclusions from U.S. intelligence, the Department of Justice, and the House and Senate intelligence committees.
Lawmakers from both parties agree on how bad this is. Commentators from right-leaning and left-leaning news organizations agree on this. Americans agree on this.
Trump’s behavior in Helsinki is not simply a policy re-set with Russia. George Bush, Ronald Reagan and others have tried to re-start a new relationship with Putin. In Helsinki, Trump tried to re-start the relationship by disregarding and invalidating a well-documented, deliberate effort from the FBI simply by asking Putin if he was guilty, and Putin saying he wasn’t.
Why did President Trump say what he did? Let’s take a look at some of the factors that may have led to it.