President Trump faced harsh bipartisan criticism back home for his Helsinki press conference with Vladimir Putin on Monday, as lawmakers claimed the U.S. president missed a chance to "stand up" to the Russian president on election meddling.
The U.S. president, for his part, called the summit with Putin "deeply productive." After Democrats for days called on him to nix the meeting in the wake of indictments against Russian officers for U.S. campaign hacking, Trump said he would "not make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics."
Dr. Celeste Wallander is President and CEO of the U.S.-Russia Foundation. She served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia/Eurasia on the National Security Council (2013-2017), as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia (2009 to July 2012). Wallander joined Fox News Radio's Guy Benson and Marie Harf to discuss President Trump's press conference with Putin.
On President Trump's press conference with Putin: I agree with you that overall we shouldn't be surprised but nonetheless it was stunning. I think what was not surprising were that there were no real specifics about how the two leaders intend to put together a positive cooperative relationship. No one thinks that in and of itself would be a bad thing. It is without question that countries should be able to cooperate to protect global security to protect their country's national interests. (1:43)
On Trump saying both countries are responsible: This is a very common element of the Russian government public statements. We've also heard it from foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, not just from Vladimar Putin. I would certainly say that they never admit they ever do anything wrong. (4:25)
On the disconnect between policy and rhetoric: I think its fair to say that this presidential administration has sustained and advanced policies that are very hard headed and in many ways appropriate to the challenge that the United States faces in dealing with a Russia that is not on board with the rules of the game and has actually taken action that hurt American interest. (7:11)
On the other issues they discussed: I think the Syria issue is an on-going and I think the United States does have an obligation to see if it's possible to work with Russia and other players in this horrific Syrian conflict to mitigate the affects on civilians to certainly deliver humanitarian goods to limit the military assault on civilians that the Assad regime has been executing along with Russian and Iranian assistance. (11:50)