Did Trump troll for 'treason' accusations in Helsinki presser?
Even some of his strongest advocates are disappointed that President Trump failed to resoundingly agree with the intelligence community assertion that Russia interfered in our election. Newt Gingrich has called it the "most serious mistake of his presidency." Journalist Byron York insightfully observed how easy it would have been to avoid the contretemps and posited:
There have always been two parts to the Trump-Russia probe: the what-Russia-did part, which is the investigation into Russia's actions during the campaign, and the get-Trump part, which is the effort to use the investigation to remove him from office.
Trump's problem is that he has always refused, or been unable, to separate the two. One is about national security and international relations, while the other is about Donald Trump.
The president clearly believes if he gives an inch on the what-Russia-did part – if he concedes that Russia made an effort to disrupt the election – his adversaries, who want to discredit his election, undermine him, and force him from office, will take a mile on the get-Trump part. That's consistent with how Trump approaches other problems; he doesn't admit anything, because he knows his adversaries will never be satisfied and just demand more.
I think that this may well be true, but I think that another factor may also be present in Trump's mind: a desire to provoke, or troll, his critics in order to get them to use the t-word: treason. Now, a normal politician avoids giving critics any opportunity for such accusations, but Trump is not a normal politician, I think we can all agree. He understands that madness now grips his most adamant political foes, and he also understands the wisdom of the ancient adage as stated by Longfellow, "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad."
Trump knows with certainty that he did not collude with Russia to win the election. But he is also well aware of the kind of footsie that the most recent nominee of the Democrats, Hillary Clinton, played with the Kremlin in approving the sale of a quarter of our uranium reserves to a Russian entity, in return for huge, nine-figure donations to the Clinton Foundation and a half-million-dollar speech for her husband.
If accusations of "treason" are in the air, then maybe Democrats have more to worry about with regard to Russia than does Trump.
And don't forget the 2012 attempt by then-president Barack Obama to covertly promise Putin's #2, Medvedev, "After my election, I'll have more flexibility" that was caught by a hot microphone.
To my ears, this is actual "collusion" – an attempt to affect the election by keeping information from the voting public, in cahoots with the Russians.
If I were Obama, I would not want "treason" defined down to include words spoken at a summit.