Last week, I wrote that the best way to think about a Trump Doctrine is as nothing more than Trumpism on the international stage. By Trumpism, I do not mean a coherent ideological program, but a psychological phenomenon, or simply the manifestation of his character.
Monday, we literally saw President Trump on an international stage, in Helsinki, and he seemed hell-bent on proving me right.
During a joint news appearance with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump demonstrated that, when put to the test, he cannot see any issue through a prism other than his grievances and ego.
In a performance that should elicit some resignations from his administration, the president sided with Russia over America’s national-security community, including Dan Coats, the Trump-appointed director of national intelligence.
Days ago, Coats issued a blistering warning that not only had Russia meddled in our election — undisputed by almost everyone save the president himself — but that it is preparing to do so again.
But when asked about Russian interference in Helsinki, Trump replied, “All I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be Russia . . . I have confidence in both parties.” (He attempted, halfheartedly and unconvincingly, to walk this back Tuesday.)