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Trump’s opening line to Putin: "Did you do this?"

Mikhail Klimentyev, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

President Trump began his high-stakes Putin meeting, according to an account by the N.Y. Times' Glenn Thrush, by saying: "I'm going to get this out of the way: Did you do this?"

  • Russian hacking/propaganda ops in the 2016 election aren't a question in many minds besides Trump's. So that's certainly not a very muscular opening if you're interested in deterrence or retribution.
  • But Trump has shown little inclination for either: Not only does he not buy the extent of the Russian transgression, he has continued to call it "fake" in private.
  • Axios' Jonathan Swan texts me: "The cognitive dissonance — between his pride in his victory, and the fact that a sinister foreign force might've helped him — is too strong for him to ever fully believe it."