Jul 16, 2018

An unforgettable Trump scene in unforgettable Trump story

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Two years of Donald Trump, of Russia, of federal investigations, of fake news, of Fox all come together today in a made-for-the-big-screen and destined-for-the-history-books scene.

The big picture: At today's Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, you have an American president huddling alone with an enemy of the United States who infiltrated our election system.

  • They'll do it on the first weekday after the president’s own government indicted a dozen Russian intelligence agents for carrying out the cyberattack. Also Friday, Trump's top intel official declared that the current danger of more Russian cyberattacks is akin to warning signs before 9/11, when 3,000 were killed and terrorism reshaped the core of our country and lives. 
  • You have an American president who publicly shrugs at the threat, and claims most of the coverage is fake — even as it echoes the precise warnings and conclusions of his own government officials.

When the meeting concludes, Vladimir Putin will postgame with a Fox News interview (Chris Wallace), while Trump will hit two Fox News shows (Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson) to give his own spin.

  • Trump will surely amplify his take on Twitter. This morning, he began Summit Day by tweeting: "Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!"
  • The post-summit sit-downs will be with the same Fox News many expected would be tempered — or even fade — after Roger Ailes was ousted. Instead, it's now the most powerful White House visual stage in history, thanks to Trump.
  • And the same Twitter that was the playground for reporters and news junkies is now the most powerful presidential messaging system in history, thanks to Trump. 

Be smart: Sitting silently back in D.C. will be the one man who can pull all these strings together, sort through the fact and fiction, and tell a tale no one will ever forget — Robert Mueller. 

Continuing coverage on Axios.com, with Jonathan Swan in Helsinki:

  • Trump has a "1:1 bilateral meeting with the President of the Russian Federation," beginning at 6:20 a.m. ET, per the White House schedule.
  • The two leaders are scheduled to hold a joint press conference at 9:50 a.m. ET.

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