KGB tactics? Journalists & pundits rush to interpret brief opening remarks before Trump-Putin summit
Sitting next to each other, Trump and Putin offered up a few off-the-cuff comments to the press about what the two leaders hoped to achieve during their meeting. The brief and rather unremarkable exchange was immediately pounced on by journalists and pundits, who provided wide-ranging verdicts on a summit that had barely just begun.
Some theories on the power politics taking place right now. Putin arrives late but still first and could be seen as welcoming Trump to the presidential palace. Trump counters by sending a massive advance convoy in Mercedes. Still waiting for Trump himself to set off.— Andrew Roth (@Andrew__Roth) July 16, 2018
The New Yorker’s Moscow correspondent had a particularly fresh take on the unspectacular encounter, noting that Putin had employed sneaky KGB tactics by… listening to what Trump was saying.
I usually find the "Putin as former KGB officer" line of analysis a lazy trope and not that helpful, but opening remarks in Helsinki make me think of what is surely spy tradecraft 101: let your interlocutor blabber on and on while you stay silent and amass tactical advantage.— Joshua Yaffa (@yaffaesque) July 16, 2018
We've seen how these talks will go from their contrasting opening statements: Holding his cards close, Putin will subtly push his interests by seizing on emotions from Trump's stream-of-consciousness chatter and love of mutual flattery pic.twitter.com/fA7rHfSVcM— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) July 16, 2018
Others worried that Trump had already been outgunned by Putin – who came armed to the meeting with a notepad and pen.
Putin appears ready to take notes in one-on-one with Trump. Ahead of meeting there were concerns among analysts that no official record would exist of the encounter. Trump didn’t appear to have a similar notepad. pic.twitter.com/fbeFXMdc9a— Kevin Liptak (@Kevinliptakcnn) July 16, 2018
But Trump’s biggest sin was not diving headfirst into unproven allegations of Russian nerve-agent attacks, according to David Corn, Mother Jones’ DC bureau chief. The US president was also caught winking.
Notice: no mention of Russia's attack on the US. Or Crimea. Or Moscow's repression and human rights abuses. Or nerve agent attack. Trump can't bring himself to say anything negative about Putin. https://t.co/LjinI9MIRb— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) July 16, 2018
Here we see Trump winking at the Russian leader who ordered an attack against the United States--an attack that continues today. https://t.co/xudNFaFk1A— Bob Cesca (@bobcesca_go) July 16, 2018
Finally, Eliot Higgins employed his mastery of social media forensics to expose Donald Trump’s less-than-stellar command of the English language. More proof that Trump is really a crypto-Russian?
Credit to Putin for not laughing out loud at "90 percent of the nuclear" https://t.co/h1rf9EWDnb— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) July 16, 2018
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