President Trump has come under fire in recent weeks and months for his relationship with Russia. He has been accused of colluding with Russia to throw the 2016 presidential election in his favor, and many of his former campaign staffers have been charged criminally as such. However, he continues to show respect for Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and especially this week, when they met in Vietnam on Saturday. There, the two influential men reached a peace agreement for Syria.
“President Trump and President Putin today, meeting on the margins of the APEC conference in Da Nang, Vietnam, confirmed their determination to defeat ISIS in Syria,” their shared statement begins. They say that they must defeat ISIS, and that on-going military communication and coordination is necessary to do so.
“Russia got themselves involved back when it was a civil war. In some respects, the effort to defeat ISIS changed priorities for some,” explained one State Department official. “Certainly, for us, the priority was defeating ISIS. I think for Russia, it’s a question of how long do they want to continue to support conflict.”
“What the joint statement indicates is a commitment to get this to a political reconciliation and peace process. That serves their interest, it serves our interest,” the official continued.
Trump used the sign of unity in Syria to deflect the more pressing issue – his collusion with Russian election interference. He insisted that after speaking about Syria, he and Putin again discussed election meddling. He ultimately dismissed it as a partisan witch-hunt.
“Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said. “I think he is very insulted by it, if you want to know the truth. Don’t forget. All he said was he never did that, he didn’t do that. I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country.”