This is hardly surprising:
President Vladimir Putin feels insulted by allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US election, Donald Trump has said after meeting him briefly at an Asia-Pacific summit in Vietnam.
“You can only ask so many times… he said he absolutely did not meddle in our election,” the US president said.
Mr Putin later dismissed the allegations as “political infighting”.
The US intelligence community has already concluded that Russia tried to sway the poll in favour of Mr Trump.
President Trump has refused to acknowledge a reported assessment by the CIA and other intelligence agencies that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the run-up to last year’s presidential election.
You don’t actually need to trust Putin an inch to believe he is telling the truth that he didn’t try to swing the outcome of the US election. None of this passed the smell test from the beginning, and the whole think reeked of an effort to explain Hillary’s catastrophic loss and an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency. I always suspected Putin found all of these accusations highly amusing; other than the usual shit-stirring that Russia’s spy agencies have been involved in since the Soviet times, exploiting divisions in US society to sow chaos as part of their zero-sum rivalry with America, I very much doubt Russia had any involvement in the US election. For one thing, it’s never been explained why Putin would have preferred Trump to Clinton.
Of course, those who don’t want very much to change in US politics are aghast at this:
Just when I think my capacity to be surprised has been exhausted, Pres Trump declares that he accepts Putin’s word (over CIA’s) that he never interfered in our election & worries the Russian leader feels insulted by charge to contrary
— Richard N. Haass (@RichardHaass) November 11, 2017
This says less about how much Trump trusts Putin than how little he trusts branches of his own government. And who can blame him? Both the FBI and Department of Justice disgraced themselves during the election with regards to Hillary Clinton, and Obama spent eight years politicising other branches such as the IRS. Moreover, Trump’s efforts to “drain the swamp” have been met with ferocious opposition from what people call the Deep State, or (a term I prefer) the Permanent Government, i.e. those who have done extremely well from the status quo and for whom Trump represents an existential threat. Is the CIA part of this? Of course it is. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Trump could probably get a warmer reception walking into a branch of the Russian government in Moscow than an American one in DC. I’d even go so far as to say parts of the American government represent a far greater political and even mortal danger to Trump than Putin does. If you were Trump, who would you believe? Putin – who at least doesn’t pretend to have America’s interests at heart – or known liars in the American government who have sworn to remove Trump from office using fair means or foul? That’s a tough one.
Then there’s this from Andrew Neil:
— Andrew Neil (@afneil) November 11, 2017
Let me take a guess. Perhaps Trump has realised that the entire American political establishment wants him gone and is doing everything they can to undermine and remove him; half the American electorate has gone into meltdown and, a year on from his election, are calling him a white supremacist Nazi when they’re not screaming at the sky; and supposedly intelligent and educated foreigners, particularly Europeans, are acting in a spectacularly immature manner over Trump while their own countries descend into chaos. Standing out from all this is Putin who, for all his faults, is remaining reasonably calm, acting like an adult, and not throwing around childish insults. Little wonder Trump is taking him more seriously than anyone else.
The lessons that ought to be drawn from this are that if you demonise your own president and try to bring him down, he will take his friends where he finds them; and if you insist on acting like a child, the adults in the room will ignore you and talk among themselves. Thus far, the reaction seems to indicate the exact opposite.