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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

Drought, record heat wave in West tied to climate change

People on Folsom Lake in Granite Bay, California, U.S., June 16, 2021. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The prolonged and widespread heat wave in the West, along with the region's increasingly severe drought, is a sign of how climate change has already tilted the odds in favor of such extremes, studies show.

Why it matters: The rapidly growing Southwest, in particular, is also the nation's fastest-warming region. The combination of heat and drought could lead to a repeat, or even eclipse, the severity of 2020's wildfire season in California and other states.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

What to watch as infrastructure talks heat up

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A mix of Beltway action and extreme weather events have brought the fault lines in infrastructure talks and their planetary stakes into sharper focus.

Catch up fast: Senate Democratic leaders pledged to seek big climate measures in a multitrillion-dollar, Democrats-only package that faces a very narrow political path.

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The sports stock market

Note: Michael Jordan's card is for baseball; Data: Alt; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Shohei Ohtani's trading card value has risen 781% since the start of 2021, the highest year-to-date return of any athlete on Alt, a sports card exchange that aims to bring more liquidity to alternative assets.

Why it matters: The trading card market is the closest thing we have to a stock market for sports.