The Current

Trump not the first president to be 'soft' on Russia, says political scientist

Donald Trump has met with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, days after 12 Russian military intelligence officers were indicted on accusations of hacking Democrats. But the attitude towards Russia could undergo a stark change by the next election, one analyst says.

2020 election will hinge on stance towards Russia, says David Rothkopf

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Read Story Transcript

Donald Trump is not the first U.S. president to be "soft" on Russia, according to a journalist and political scientist who argues that the 2020 election may hinge on the candidates' stance on Vladimir Putin.

"Barack Obama was not that tough on Russia," said David Rothkopf, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"Crimea happened on his watch. The hybrid warfare in Ukraine happened on his watch. The Russian intervention in Syria happened on his watch and the 2016 election hacking happened on his watch."

"So there have been two presidents who have been fairly soft on Russia," he said. "I think it's very likely that the president elected in 2020 is going to run by saying: 'No more.'"

Trump met with Putin Monday in Helsinki. The meeting was private, with no notes taken of what was discussed. Rothkopf said the secrecy was "disturbing," given the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, and last week's indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers accused of hacking Democrats.

In a news conference following the summit, Trump said they had discussed trade, terrorism and the allegations against Russia. He called the probe "a disaster" that had kept the U.S. and Russia apart, adding that "there was no collusion" during his campaign.

The Russian president said that he told Trump "that the Russian state never interfered, and does not plan to interfere in internal American electoral process."

"We should be guided by facts, not rumours," he said.

To discuss the implications of the meeting between the two world leaders, The Current's guest host Ioanna Roumeliotis was joined by:

  • Phillip Rucker, the Washington Post's White House Bureau Chief
  • David Rothkopf, journalist and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Listen to the full discussion near the top of this page.

With files from CBC News. This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson.


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