'It was a well laid-out plan. Unfortunately, he didn’t execute on it.'
In preparation for the Helsinki summit, aides briefed Trump on a plan to confront Vladimir Putin over the recent indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for their role in carrying out cyberattacks targeting the 2016 presidential election.
But when the big day came, "he did the exact opposite," a White House official reported.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the White House official described a "well laid-out plan" that was presented to Trump in the lead-up to his meeting with Putin.
In preparatory sessions, Trump was advised to invoke the Justice Department's indictment when he met with Putin behind closed doors, and again during the press conference afterwards. With hard evidence in hand, Trump could make a strong case to the man who ordered the crimes to be carried out.
The idea, according to the official, was to take the indictment and "shove it in Putin’s face and look strong doing it."
But when Trump got to Helsinki, he ignored the advice and blew off the plan that he had apparently agreed to just days earlier.
"It was a well laid-out plan," the official told the Journal. "Unfortunately, he didn’t execute on it."
That's putting it mildly.
Instead of confronting Putin over the cyberattacks he personally ordered, Trump sided with the Russian dictator and undercut the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia attacked our elections and is still engaged in efforts to undermine our democratic process.
According to the Journal, Trump's humiliating behavior in Helsinki has thrown a wrench in the White House's plan to make him the "public face" of the administration's efforts to combat election interference in the midterm elections.
The plan was to show Trump "presiding over meetings and making announcements about an administration-wide commitment to safeguard the 2018 elections," the Journal reported.
But with Trump unwilling to even acknowledge election interference or name the culprit, the White House has come to the realization that it may be just a little bit difficult to make the case that he's spearheading efforts to combat a problem that he has spent his entire presidency trying to ignore.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.