Just hours after the U.S. Justice Department announced indictments against members of Russia’s military intelligence agency for waging cyberwarfare against U.S. elections in 2016, Donald Trump, instead of condemning Russia’s actions, attacked our strongest allies again, calling the European Union a “foe” of the United States.
In an interview with CBS Evening News’ Jeff Glor on Saturday before heading to a one-on-one meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, Trump, wearing a dark suit jacket and an oversized white “USA” hat, said, “I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.”
Trump also called Russia, who again, was just formally charged with attacking the United States, a foe, but only “in certain respects.”
“Russia’s a foe in certain respects. China’s a foe; economically certainly they’re a foe. But that doesn’t mean they’re bad, it doesn’t mean anything. It means that they’re competitors. They wanna do well and we wanna do well,” Trump said.
Trump then touted his favorite mantra of perceived economic gains by African Americans, Hispanics, and women, three groups who have been among the most targeted by racist, misogynist, and xenophobic Trump administration policies.
Trump’s latest condemnation of European allies comes on the heels of an embarrassing official visit to the U.K., in which the U.S. president insulted British Prime Minister Theresa May in an interview with The Sun (and then lied about it); upstaged and turned his back on Queen Elizabeth II; sat in Winston Churchill’s chair, prompting the Daily Mirror to ask on its front page “How Dare You…”; and attacked members of the free U.S. press on foreign soil.
After the announcement of the Russia indictments on Friday, several top Democrats called on Trump to cancel his meeting with Putin. Trump ignored those calls, and when confronted with the indictments from his own Justice Department alleging a serious attack on U.S. democracy, the president refused to condemn Russia, instead returning to a tactic he’s used before: blaming former President Barack Obama.
“These Russian individuals did their work during the Obama years. Why didn’t Obama do something about it?” Trump tweeted on Saturday.
On Sunday, Trump said he looked forward to meeting with Putin, and he again called journalists the “enemy of the people.”
“Unfortunately, no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia...over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough – that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition! Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people and all the Dems…know how to do is resist and obstruct! This is why there is such hatred and dissension in our country – but at some point, it will heal!” Trump tweeted.
Trump clearly had pondered all of this in light of massive demonstrations that followed him all over England and Scotland. But one thing that didn’t appear to have occurred to him was demanding that Putin extradite the 12 Russian operatives named in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury indictments.
“What’s your goal for the Putin meeting?” Glor asked.
“I’ll let you know after the meeting…I do believe in meetings,” Trump responded.
“The Russians who were indicted—would you ask Putin to send them here?” Glor asked, referring to the U.S.
“Well, I might. I hadn’t thought of that,” Trump admitted (emphasis mine). “But certainly I’ll be asking about it. But, again, this was during the Obama administration. They were doing whatever it was during the Obama administration.”
Trump also added some pretty interesting information about hacking attempts against the Republicans, which many smart people might call a “tell.”
One more thing: Trump might want to get on the same page as his ambassador to Russia. Just a thought.
Update, Sunday, 1:27 p.m.: While Trump still hasn’t condemned Russia for attacking the United States, he praised Vladimir Putin (again!) on Sunday “for putting on a truly great World Cup Tournament — one of the best ever!”
Update, Sunday, 1:36 p.m.: European Council President Donald Tusk doesn’t seem to think the EU and the U.S. are foes. Responding to Trump’s comments, Tusk tweeted Sunday that, “America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news.”