2018 Russia - United States Summit

2018 Russia - United States Summit

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Updated Jul 25, 2018 at 03:40PM EDT by Don.

Added Jul 17, 2018 at 11:41AM EDT by Matt.

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Overview

2018 Russia – United States Summit refers to a meeting between United States President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held in Helsinki, Finland in mid-July 2018. The meeting included a controversial press conference after which Trump was widely criticized for defending Russia against claims that the Russian government's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, seemingly siding with Putin's denial of accusations raised by the FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies.

Background

On July 16th, 2018, President Trump and President Putin held a joint press conference following a private, two-hour meeting meeting between the two world leaders and their translators. No other officials sat in on the meeting.

During the press conference, journalists asked both President Trump and President Putin about the 2016 election meddling, which Putin denied any responsibly for and Trump pushed back against.



Developments

Online Reaction

Response to the president's performance was widely criticized for favoring Putin's word over the intelligence community, who had indicted 12 Russian agents for conspiring against the United States on July 13th. Following the summit, the hashtag #ImpeachTrump[1] started trending on Twitter (examples below).


W. Kamau Bell @wkamaubell Never forget: If you had a day at work like the day @realDonaldTrump had today, security would be at your office waiting for you, asking for your key card, w/ all your possessions in a box, & a cup for you to pee in. #TreasonSummit #TrumpTreason #ImpeachTrump Oh and in case this couldn't possibly get any worse, here's Maria Butina-the Russian gun-loving national just arrested in DC-at the Oval Office meeting w/ Lavrov and Kislyak. The one 8 days after Comey's firing where Trump gave away national security intel. #ImpeachTrump Remember when THIS boneheaded traitor said "Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all"? I don't think he was lying. When you're a coward, it's very easy to lay down and grovel at the feet of a bully and take orders Punkass President Pissflake. #ImpeachTrump Donald J. Trump. @realDonaldTrump As I said today and many times before, "I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people." However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past - as the world's two largest nuclear powers, we must get along! #HELSINK!2018


That day, Redditor [2] acore8694 posted about the summit in a thread titled "Trump sides with Russia against FBI at Helsinki summit" on the /r/news subreddit. The post received more than 54,000 points (79% upvoted) and 4,300 comments in 24 hours.

On the pro-Trump subreddit /r/The_Donald, [3] Redditor richmomz wrote, "Trump and Putin Collude for World Peace." The post received more than 2,600 points (88% upvoted) and 175 comments in 24 hours.

Government Response

Many members of congress negatively criticized the president' performance at the summit. In a statement,[4] Republican Senator John McCain said, "Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell told reporters,[6] "I have said a number of times, I’ll say it again: The Russians are not our friends. And I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community."

Democrats also chastised the president. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said,[5] "President Trump’s weakness in front of Putin was embarrassing, and proves that the Russians have something on the president, personally, financially or politicallyThis is a sad day for America, and for all Western democracies that Putin continues to target."

Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer said questioned if the Russian government had incriminating evidence on the president. He said, "A single, ominous question now hangs over the White House: What could possibly cause President Trump to put the interests of Russia over those of the United States? Millions of Americans will continue to wonder if the only possible explanation for this dangerous behavior is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump."

The follow day, House Speaker Paul Ryan disagreed with the president's assessment in a press conferencing in which called Russia a "menacing government that does not share our values."



Following the meeting, the Belmont Country Republican Party chairman resigned. He tweeted,[12] "I remain a proud conservative and Republican, but I resigned today as Belmont Co Ohio GOP Chairman. I did so as a matter of conscience, and my sense of duty." The post (shown below) received mroe than 21,000 retweets and 102,000 likes in 24 hours.


Chris Gagin @cgagin l remain a proud conservative and Republican, but I resigned today as Belmont Co Ohio GOP Chairman. I did so as a matter of conscience, and my sense of duty.

Media Coverage

During the press conference a journalist was removed for holding up a sign that reads "Nuclear Test Ban treaty" in hopes that it would get the attention of the world leaders. The man was Sam Husseini, an op-ed writer for The Nation.[13]

Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor for The Nation, commented, "At a time when this administration consistently denigrates the media, we’re deeply troubled by these reports. Independent journalism is needed more than ever to confront a White House that considers media the enemy of the people, and relentlessly attacks the media in order to delegitimize checks on this administration’s abuse of power."



Virtually all major news outlets covered the summit, including The Washington Post,[7] The New York Times,[8] CNN,[9] Fox News, [10] MSNBC[11] and more.

Members of the media criticized the president for his performance. Anderson Cooper called the Turmp's performance "disgraceful" (shown below).



New York Times Op-ed Video

The day of the summit, the New York Times published a cartoon that used soundbites of Donald Trump talking while animating a secret, romantic trist between Trump and Putin. They tweeted, "In this episode of Trump Bites, Donald Trump’s not-so-secret admiration for Vladimir Putin plays out in a teenager’s bedroom, where the fantasies of this forbidden romance come to life." The post (shown below) received more than 4,600 retweets, 9,200 likes and 5,800 comments in 24 hours.



Many criticized the cartoon as homophobic, implying that both Trump and Putin being gay is worthy of mockery or insult and something for them both to be ashamed of. Twitter[14] user @pfpicardi wrote, "This is homophobic. It is implying that being gay is an insult for both of these men. It implies that being gay would emasculate them. It implies that calling them gay together would anger them and incite reaction. This is beneath us." The post (shown below, left) received more than 4,900 retweets and 22,000 likes in 24 hours.

Throughout the day, more people criticized the cartoon for those reasons (show below, center and right).


Phillip Picardi @pfpicardi This is homophobic. It is implying that being gay is an insult for both of these men. It implies that being gay would emasculate them. It implies that calling them gay together would anger them and incite reaction. This is beneath us. NYT Opinion@nytopinion In this episode of Trump Bites, Donald Trump's not-so-secret admiration for Vladimir Putin plays out in a teenager's bedroom, where the fantasies of this forbidden romance come to life. nyti.ms/2uncI7E Louis Vitel Φ @louisvirtel During these trying times when the president lies to us every day and normalizes Vladimir Putin, please remember what's important: LOL WHAT IF HE WAS GAY NYT Opinion Φ @nytopinion In this episode of Trump Bites, Donald Trump's not-so-secret admiration for Vladimir Putin plays out in a teenager's bedroom, where the fantasies of this forbidden romance come to life. nyti.ms/2uncI7E Tegan and Sara @teganandsara l think it is dangerous to constantly insult the relationship between these two men by insinuating that it is romantic. This is homophobic. NYT Opinion@nytopinion In this episode of Trump Bites, Donald Trump's not-so-secret admiration for Vladimir Putin plays out in a teenager's bedroom, where the fantasies of this forbidden romance come to life. nyti.ms/2uncl7E

President Trump's Response

Following the press conference with Putin, President Trump tweeted that the meeting had been a success, but that the media had reported the opposite. He wrote,[15] "While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way – the Fake News is going Crazy!" The post (shown below) received more than 22,000 retweets and 91,000 likes in 24 hours.


Donald J. Trump C @realDonaldTrump While I had a great meeting with NATO raising vast amounts of money, I had an evern better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way - the Fake News is going Crazy!

The following day, Trump held a brief press conference in which he appeared to rebuke his previous comments. He said, "I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. A lot of people out there."

He proceeded to claim that he misspoke. "In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't.' … The sentence should've been: 'I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.'"



Trump's comments, particularly his use of the word "wouldn't," set off a series of memes in which historical moments are changed by changing the word "would."

Twitter[16] user @adamcbest tweeted, "George W. Bush has to be thinking, “Darn. I should’ve gone out the next day and said ‘I meant mission not accomplished.’” The post (shown below, left) received more than 2,500 retweets and 13,000 likes in 24 hours.

Meanwhile, rock singer Richard Marx tweeted a joke that he meant to say "wouldn't" in the lyrics for his 1989 song "Right Here Waiting" (shown below).


Richard Marx @richardmarx I misspoke. I meant to say I "wouldn't" be right here waiting for you.

In the Simpsons Shitposting Facebook [17] group, one user rewrote a scene from the The Simpsons to reference Trump's comments.

Throughout the day, the hashtag "#wouldnt" was trending on Twitter Twitter[18] user @MilesToGo13 tweeted a quote from the film The Princess Bride. The post (shown below, right) received more than 3,300 retweets and 10,000 likes in 24 hours.

That evening, Twitter[19] published a Moments page about the response.


George W. Bush has to be thinking, "Darn. I should've gone out the next day and said 'I meant mission not accomplished." HOW CAN YOU DENYRUSSIAN INTEREERENCE? LET'S JUST SAY PUTIN'S STORY ..to tHE WWHTE HOUSE S SAIDUTHE QUIET PART LOUD AND THE LOUD PART QUIEt "But you WOULD expect me to say that they #Wouldnt have interfered with our election. so clearly I cannot choose the word in front of YOU!"

Additionally, photojournalist Tom Brenner tweeted[20] a picture of the piece of paper Trump read his comments from. On the paper, written in black ink, were the words "THERE WAS NO COLLUISION." Within 24 hours, the post (shown below) received more than 6,700 retweets and 15,000 likes.


The President wrote in sharpie "THERE WAS NO COLUSION" during a meeting with conaressional members

ADIDAS Ball

During the summit, Trump thanked Putin for gifting him a soccer ball, which he tossed to his wife Melania and claimed he would give the ball to his son, Barron (shown below).



On July 16th, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted that the ball should be checked for "listening devices and never allow it in the White House" (shown below).[22] On July 21st, Time[23] reported that the soccer ball was "undergoing a routine security screening."


Lindsey Graham @LindseyGrahamSC Finally, if it were me, I'd check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House.

On July 25th, 2018, the news site Bloomberg[21] reported that the ball was an ADIDAS AG ball, which advertises the ability to direct owners to videos of soccer players and other content by holding a mobile device up to the ball's NFC chip. The article also reported that the chip could be used "to initiate an attack on a phone," but that the user would have to agree to opening a malicious file. The article included a statement from Linus Neumann, spokesman for the Hamburg-based hacker collection Chaos Computer Club, who claimed, "Trump would have to ignore multiple security warnings and intentionally install a malware on his device." That day, the Bloomberg article reached the front page of /r/politics,[24] where it gathered upwards of 920 points (83% upvoted) and 160 comments within four hours.

My Name Is Reek

Following the Summit many online compared Trump and Putin to the relationship between Theon Greyjoy and Ramsay Snow on the television series Game of Thrones, using the My Name Is Reek meme.

Search Interest

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