On Friday, Donald Trump surprised much of the world when he announced his support for welcoming Russia back into the G-7, effectively rewarding Vladimir Putin's government for its recent misdeeds. As the American president pushed his pro-Moscow talking points, which appeared rehearsed, questions arose anew about why, exactly, Trump continued to go out of his way to use his office to help a foreign adversary that attacked the United States.
Indeed, the call didn't really make any sense: the G-7 is intended for the world's largest democracies and largest economies. Russia falls short in both categories.
During the summit in Quebec, Canada, Trump hosted a press conference and went a little further, suggesting Putin shouldn't be blamed for Russia's annexation of Crimea -- a crime that helped push Russia out of what was the G-8.
Q: Just to come back to Russia for a second. Something that happened that got them kicked out of the G-8 was the invasion and annexation of Crimea. Do you think that Crimea should be recognized as Russian [territory]?
TRUMP: Well, you know, you have to ask President Obama, because he was the one that let Crimea get away. That was during his administration. And he was the one that let Russia go and spend a lot of money on Crimea, because they've spent a lot of money on rebuilding it. I guess they have their submarine port there and such. But Crimea was let go during the Obama administration. And, you know, Obama can say all he wants, but he allowed Russia to take Crimea. I may have had a much different attitude. So you'd really have to ask that question to President Obama -- you know, why did he do that; why did he do that.
Note, Trump basically said the same sentence, with slightly different wording, over and over again, making a point that only he understood. Russia invaded one of its neighbors, and Trump now wants the world to blame Obama, not Putin.
And that's bonkers.
There's no point in dwelling on a history lesson -- it's not as if the relevant facts would sway Trump anyway -- but short of risking World War III, there wasn't much Obama (or any other leader) could do to stop Russia's annexation.
Obama did respond to Putin's move by imposing new economic sanctions and diplomatic punishments -- including helping kick Russia out of the G-8. Trump, meanwhile, responded to Russia's invasion of Crimea by largely endorsing Putin's aggression in a televised interview.
But in this case, watching Trump blame an American for Russian aggression may be exasperating, but it's also part of a larger whole.