Reaction to Helsinki

Protesters in Helsinki, Finland, on Sunday, July 15, 2018, the day before the summit between U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Russia President Vladimir Putin. Photo: watermelonart/Shutterstock.com
By UM News

Protesters in Helsinki, Finland, on Sunday, July 15, 2018, the day before the summit between U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Russia President Vladimir Putin. Photo: watermelonart/Shutterstock.com

Reaction to Helsinki

By UM News
Following the summit between Trump and Putin, reaction from politicians, pundits and former intelligence officials was swift.

Media reports say President Donald J. Trump was buoyant and upbeat following his Monday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland. 

But his mood went south as criticism flowed in from several fronts, castigating the U.S. president for capitulating to Putin and refusing to back the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections. Former CIA chief John Brennan went as far as to say that Trump’s performance “was nothing short of treasonous.” 

UM News asked University of Miami faculty to comment on the Helsinki summit. 

Gregory Koger, professor of political science in the College of Arts and Sciences:

President Trump's extraordinary personal support for Putin and Russia is no surprise. Monday's personal meeting and a press conference in which Trump supported Russia over American interests and institutions was a striking case in a long pattern of behavior. The real question is what the Republican majority in the House and Senate will do to correct Trump's behavior and safeguard American interests. Congress has the power to pass laws to overturn Trump's actions. Congress has the power to hold hearings on Trump's Russia policy, his financial dealings, and his use of classified material. Congress has the power to release President Trump's tax returns. And, ultimately, Congress has the power to impeach and remove the President. Congress has all of this power, but it is unclear if the Republican majorities in charge of both chambers will move past their expressions of "thoughts and prayers" in support of American interests. 

Caroline Mala Corbin, professor of constitutional law at the School of Law:

According to the U.S. Constitution, a president may be impeached for treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors.The Constitution defines treason narrowly: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” Our "enemies" are generally limited to those with who we are in a declared or open war. Whether Russia’s attacks on our elections rise to the level of hostilities or whether Trump’s help of Russia rises to the level of “aid and comfort” is ultimately up to Congress. (Congress might also decide that an act is not treasonous, but amounts to a "high crime" or "misdemeanor.") The impeachment of a U.S. president is a partly political and partly legal process, with Congress controlling the process. If Congress thinks the president ought to be impeached, even if he hasn’t satisfied all the legal requirements, then he can be impeached. If Congress does not want to impeach the president, even if he has flagrantly violated multiple constitutional provisions, then the president will remain in power.

Casey Klofstad, associate professor of political science in the College of Arts and Sciences:

In the press conference following his one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump freely admitted that he trusts the word of Putin over the intelligence gathered by his own country with regard to Russian interference with the 2016 elections. This is very troubling for myriad reasons. President Trump has debased and demoralized the countless men and women in the U.S. law enforcement and intelligence communities who have been charged with the vital task of protecting this country. Moreover, in his statements following the Helsinki summit with Putin, and his actions prior to that at the NATO summit in Belgium, Trump has sent clear signals that he seeks to shake up long-standing alliances between democratic nations in favor of creating ties with Russia, an authoritarian nation that has little regard for the core values that guide the U.S., including freedom of expression, a free press, and due process under the law. Finally, in his statements in Helsinki Trump has left open the door for future Russian interference in U.S. elections. Many voters will question the validity of those elections as a consequence, which is a challenge to the legitimacy of democratic institutions (e.g., free and fair elections) in this country.