Washington, July 8: The “Gray Lady of Manhattan” billed it as the “Donnie and Vlad: A Love Story” overshadowing the summit of the world’s 20 rich and powerful tions. The “failing New York Times”, as the POTUS loves to call it, was confident that their first pow-wow would be “a sure winner for Russia” with a sceptic Dold Trump loathe to raise Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election with Vladimir Putin.
Other pundits prophesied that Putin, the former KGB agent, would eat The Dold, the once reality TV star, like a sandwich with a bit of flattery at their short and sweet meeting that was supposed to last just half an hour with no agenda. The Friday encounter turned in Hamburg out to be a “blockbuster”. With not a fly on the wall privy to the inside story, the meeting dragged for all of two hours and 16 agonising minutes for anxious reporters waiting outside.
And even FLOTUS Melania peeking through the door could not hurry them along, as Trump’s top diplomat Rex Tillerson would tell afterwards. Defying pundits, the POTUS raised the Russian hacking issue off the bat, claimed Tillerson, who along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made the foursome besides the two interpreters.
“Nyet, Nyet,” asserted Putin and demanded proof, but nevertheless agreed to organise talks “regarding commitments of non-interference” in Uncle Sam’s affairs. As the Russian spy and the proud American author of “The Art of the Deal” focused on how to move forward, they reached their first pact on a partial Syrian ceasefire. Tillerson also saw “a level of commitment” on the part of Russia to “transition away from the Assad family” after the defeat of ISIS.
With Lavrov having a slightly different take suggesting Trump had accepted Putin’s “clear statements” about Russian meddling “being untrue” critics quickly latched on to the “differing rratives”. Without the ever-present leakers, the hacks of the media variety were left speculating about what transpired behind closed doors after Trump greeted Putin calling it “an honour” and the Russian responded with a “delighted to meet you”.
The professiols were apparently kept out of the Hamburg tango as part of what the influential Politico called Trump’s “stealthy operation to smoke out leakers” with a crackdown that has sent “chills through tiol security world”. Trump also muddied the waters before the Putin meeting by telling reporters in Poland that “it could very well have been Russia” behind the election hacks or “it could well have been other countries”. “Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure,” Trump declared even as he chided his predecessor Barack Obama for “choking” while questioning his spooks’ assessment about Moscow’s role.
Then he fired another tweet missile claiming “Everyone here is talking about why (Clinton campaign chairman) John Podesta refused” to give the Democratic Party’s server to the FBI and the CIA, and proclaiming it “Disgraceful!” This sent the pundits on another wild goose chase with a nitpicking hack at the Washington Post churning out a long winded “Alysis” of “one of President Trump’s most bizarre tweets yet”. And the Times was quick to brand Democratic mayor De Blasio’s “sudden trip” to join G-20 protests against the global political and economic system as “Trump Protests”. (IANS)