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President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16, 2018. Photo: Chris McGrath via Getty Images

At President Trump’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, he assigned blame to the U.S. and complained about Robert Mueller's “witch hunt,” showing indifference to Russia’s meddling in both Ukraine and the 2016 U.S. election. His performance could scarcely have been more favorable to Putin or more threatening to the security of American democracy.

Why it matters: The press conference will create a lasting disconnect between the president and his national security team. It will now be much harder to continue assuring U.S. allies that they can ignore what Trump says.

Last week’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers amplified what was already widely known: In 2016, Russian intelligence hacked into private U.S. email accounts and disseminated stolen information to damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign and tip the scales in Trump’s favor.

With the indictments weighing heavily on the summit, Trump, standing next to Putin, continued to deflect, deny and dismiss the findings of his own country’s intelligence community, at times citing a wandering list of grievances about Clinton and U.S. law enforcement.

Trump went so far as to contradict his own Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, giving equal weight to Coats’ assessment of Russian meddling and Putin’s denial of it. Trump's advisers, including U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman, appeared stunned by his comments.

The bottom line: The conference stands out as a uniquely submissive moment in the country’s recent history. It also fully fits Trump’s diplomatic worldview: He belittled and insulted longstanding friends and allies last week, and today appeased a major adversary — all of which redounds to Putin's benefit.

Paul Stronski is a senior fellow in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace.

Go deeper

Senate confirms retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole "no" votes.

Why it matters: Austin is the first Black American to lead the Pentagon and President Biden's second Cabinet nominee to be confirmed.

House will transmit article of impeachment to Senate on Monday, Schumer says

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is required to begin the impeachment trial at 1pm the day after the article is transmitted.

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2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Private equity bets on delayed tax reform in Biden administration

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In normal times, private equity would be nervous about Democratic Party control of both the White House and Congress. But in pandemic-consumed 2021, the industry seems sanguine.

Driving the news: Industry executives and lobbyists paid very close attention to Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's confirmation hearings this week, and came away convinced that tax reform isn't on the near-term agenda.