Just six months into his presidency, Barack Obama sat down with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time, and as former Ambassador Michael McFaul explained, Putin went "for an entire hour without interruption" about how previous U.S. administrations were responsible for heightened tensions between the two countries.
Nine years later, it's Donald Trump -- who should probably at least try to side with his own country -- who echoed Moscow's line ahead of his summit with his Russian counterpart.
"Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!"
First, if Trump believes relations with Russia have "NEVER been worse," he really ought to read a book or two about the Cold War. The chapters on the Cuban Missile Crisis would be especially illuminating.
Second, Americans have never heard their president lash out at his own country this way, endorsing the propaganda of our adversary, and blaming the United States' "stupidity" for undermining relations with a foreign foe.
Indeed, Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs quickly endorsed Trump's sentiment, which will do little to quiet questions about exactly whose side the American president is on.
Hours later, as Trump's one-on-one summit with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, got underway, the Republican laid out a list of topics he expected the two leaders to cover: trade, military, missiles, nuclear, and China. The list did not include election interference, Ukraine and the future of Crimea, Syria, Russia's suspected role in a poison-gas assassination attempt in the U.K., or the extradition of Russian intelligence operatives charged with attacking our political system. (On that last point, Trump said over the weekend, "I hadn't thought of that.")
All of this comes on the heels of a CBS News interview in which Trump was asked, "What's your goal for the Putin meeting?"
Trump replied, "Uh, I'll let you know after the meeting."
Maybe he didn't understand the question.