NEW YORK – At a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin proved that he remains a master of the tradecraft he perfected in the 1980s as a Soviet operative in East Germany. Trump wilted under Putin’s impassive KGB-trained gaze.
After the summit, Trump declared that he trusted Putin’s assurance that Russia had no reason to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The statement, which contradicted U.S. intelligence agencies, was quickly condemned by many in the U.S. security establishment, U.S. Democrats and even some Republicans. Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, said that Trump “must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.” Some went so far as to call Trump’s behavior “treason.”