Sen. Cory Gardner claims Trump doesn't believe what he said about his meeting coming up with Putin. In other words, @SenCoryGardner is lying on @FoxNews https://t.co/rvMjl0zbcP #copolitic @thinkprogress— Arn Menconi (@ArnMenconi) July 11, 2018
President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to host their first summit on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland.
Meeting his Russian counterpart maybe the most daunting task for the president as he is expected to press Putin on the alleged Russian meddling in U.S. election issue and also discuss Syria and Ukraine during their meeting.
However, Trump doesn’t seem to think so.
The commander-in-chief spoke to reporters before leaving for the NATO summit in Brussels where he suggested Putin’s meeting “may be the easiest of them all.”
“So I have NATO, I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all, who would think?” he told reporters.
The president made the comments and flew away in the Air Force One but left his aides in a tough position who were left to explain his comments.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) appeared on Fox News and was asked to respond to POTUS’ controversial comments but instead of explaining the statement, the senator flatly said the president didn’t mean what he said.
“I think he’s simply trying to say to our great NATO allies and friends, ‘let’s make sure that we’re all rowing in the same direction, so to speak. Let’s make sure that we’re living up to our expectations and obligations,” said Gardner.
The senator added, “I think the president knows the challenges he has with Vladimir Putin, we all know that, and I hope that when he meets with our NATO allies he will talk about the violations of international law that Russia has created, and indeed, it sounds like he may have an opportunity at some point to even address that very same concern with Vladimir Putin himself.”
The Putin summit comes at a time when U.S.-Russia relations have fallen to one of the lowest points since the cold war. However, the leaders’ courtship is expected to loom over the summit.
Despite these alarming concerns, Trump has often praised the dictator. Trump’s staff has repeatedly advised him to maintain a distance with Putin. However, the president has ignored the suggestions.
Earlier this year in April, the president congratulated Putin for his re-election victory during a phone call, ignoring his staff’s warning of not doing so.
During the call, he skirted the topic of Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election and also declined to mention Russia’s likely involvement in the nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy and his daughter, which occurred in the United Kingdom.
Given Trump’s history of coziness with his Russian counterpart, his comments actually didn’t come as a surprise.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Getty Images, Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call