Jan 20, 2023 - Politics & Policy

First look: Pompeo slams Trump "mistake" on Putin press conference

Mike Allen

Cover: Broadside Books

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be out Tuesday with a memoir that slams former President Trump, a potential rival for the '24 GOP nomination, for defending Vladimir Putin at a notorious press conference.

Driving the news: "My first major Russia-related work as secretary came in July 2018, when President Trump met Putin in Helsinki," Pompeo writes in "Never Give An Inch."

  • "This engagement," Pompeo writes, "is remembered for the press conference held at the end of their meeting" — a disaster where Trump lavished praise on Putin and sided with Russia over U.S. intelligence.

"To be clear, Trump’s language there was neither accurate nor helpful," Pompeo adds: To stand next to Putin and say that he believed Putin’s claims that he didn’t meddle in the U.S. election was very Trumpian. It was also a mistake. It lacked the depth to address the question that had come from the American reporter: "Do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular?" Trump’s answer reflected his inability or refusal to separate the Russia Hoax from the fact that Russia had tried to sow chaos in the 2016 election. For Trump, every question about Russia and the elections was poisoned by the narrative of the Russia Hoax. These horrible lies about him ... were connected in Trump's mind to the Russian government’s chaos campaign.

The bottom line: "I suspect the Chinese are lying that they didn't know Putin's [Ukraine] invasion was imminent," Pompeo writes.

  • "Those who suggest that the United States try to forge a partnership with Russia as a hedge against China are untethered from the reality of Putin's unyielding hostility toward the United States and his complete untrustworthiness."
  • "An American partnership with Russia is a fool's errand so long as Putin and his thugs are in power. We must therefore deter Putin from pursuing his dreams of a revived empire, as well as limit Russia’s ability to operate as part of a powerful bloc that includes China and Iran."

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