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The Tale of Trump's Unsuccessful Trip
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15 Nov 2017 02:04 AM EST

Until Saturday, President Donald Trump had earned some praise for his trip to Asia. Overall, the visit seemed to go well by the standards we use to evaluate him. There were few unsettling tweets over the past few days, at least relative to his normal routine, and by most accounts the meetings with the key leaders have gone smoothly. Trump has played ball in the diplomatic celebrations and seemed to be in good spirits. He's offered some provocative words about North Korea, but nothing that comes close to the kinds of incendiary words he used before the United Nations in New York. Yet to call the trip a success would be a big mistake. On Saturday, the President delivered his first moment of shock and awe with his Achilles' heel on foreign policy: Russia. In an act of defiance, he said he believed President Vladimir Putin's claim that Russia did not intervene in the 2016 US election despite all the evidence to the contrary, including from US intelligence agencies. He seems more worried that Putin is "insulted" by the accusations than he is by the impact these operations had on our democratic processes. The shocking comments about Putin are likely to drown out everything else that has happened so far. The statement is a head-turner. It is part of the ongoing puzzle from this administration: What explains Trump's insistence on taking a relatively positive stance toward the Russian government despite the overwhelming evidence we have of an ongoing cyberwar against democratic elections and a terrible record on human rights.

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