‘If Russia thinks America is speaking with two voices, it’s because we are’
However, other issues have also clouded the bilateral efforts.
Donald Trump Jr. released emails from June 2016, which details how the encounter with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya during his father's election campaign was set up. He described the meeting at Trump Tower, and the present media fallout, as “inane nonsense.”
Trump reacted to the scandal by praising his son for 'transparency' over his decision to release the emails.
RT: Putin and Trump seemed optimistic about Russia-US cooperation just a few days ago. Do you think we're seeing a backlash against that, from the establishment?
Jim Jatras: Of course. Look, if the Russians believe the Americans are talking with two voices – that is because we are. Clearly I think President Trump is very sincere in trying to work out some kind of a broader arrangement with Moscow, and he faces tremendous opposition here in Washington from people who didn’t want this meeting to take place, or wanted it to be pro forma pleasant handshake and pleasantries kind of thing. Not to affect any substance. But I am still rather optimistic. I think the real litmus test here is going to be if arrangement in southwest Syria can go forward. I am not concerned that the American side really hasn’t worked out what our participation is going to be. Frankly, the more minimal our presence there in Syria is, and the more the Russians and the Jordanians take the lead, I think the better off we are.
RT: Putin and Trump also discussed the Syrian conflict, and Rex Tillerson said it shows an ''indication of the US and Russia being able to work together." Do you think that's going to happen?
JJ: I think there is a good chance that it can. Let’s remember we have a lot of people here, in the Deep State, if you will, who don’t want any cooperation with Russia at all on anything, particularly on Syria. And there is a huge potential that somebody may try to sabotage it. We have the potential for a false flag chemical attack. We have all sorts of problems that could take place. And that’s one reason you don’t want a lot of American boots on the ground policing this arrangement, because they are very attractive targets for people who want to disrupt this.
RT: At the meeting, Putin and Trump agreed to work on a joint cybersecurity unit. But Trump later said that's unlikely to happen. Do you think he was responding to pressure?
JJ: The chances of that are very, very small, let’s be honest. President Trump has made it clear he does not believe the Russians hacked the US election, but people in his administration, for example, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley treat that as an established fact. I think the whole idea of joint cybersecurity cooperation was a gentlemen’s agreement to disagree knowing that Mr. Trump really can’t control American policy on this and faces tremendous opposition. Look, as soon as he gets back from the meeting, what is the lead news story here? His son met with a Russian lawyer ‘with ties to the Russian government.’ It is absurd, but that’s where we are here.
Patrick Henningsen, geopolitical analyst, 21st Century Wire.com
RT: Is this meeting finally the smoking gun everyone's been looking for proving collusion between Donald Trump's team and Russia?
Patrick Henningsen: I don’t think so. It certainly doesn’t look like it. You wouldn’t know by the sort of storm the media put out over the weekend – they seem to finally all celebrated that: “We’ve finally done it. We finally got something connecting Donald Trump to Russia, or to some form of so-called collusion." It really doesn’t look like there is a whole lot here so far.
RT: Donald Trump's son claims he was hoping to get information on Clinton's ties with Russia. But the lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya says the meeting was not supposed to be about that. Who should we believe here?
PH: First off, you have to say Donald Trump Jr. made the right move by putting the email chain up on Twitter. I suppose he could have done what Hillary Clinton did with her 30,000 emails and just delete them, but he did put them out. So we have to give him good marks on transparency. What’s really important here is the media’s reaction to this is quite perplexing, considering the Democratic Party paid for opposition research, and quite a lot of money, not just for the Christopher Steele dossier, which turned out to be fake, and is really a sort of defamation document above all else. The Clinton campaign also paid and coordinated with the Ukrainian government, with the Ukrainian embassy, and also with the DNC [Democratic National Committee] and Yahoo News. That is a four-way coordinated operation to basically bring up dirt about Paul Manafort, who was Donald Trump’s campaign manager at the time; and ties to Russia, Viktor Yanukovych, etc. That is actual collusion, that is actually dealing with states – this is not dealing with Russia. The government, even though this might have been represented possibly in the emails as some loose connection, but there is nothing there.
What’s interesting is that I think the media has made the collusion. The New York Times, talk about sloppy journalism, actually misquoted Donald Trump Jr. in the second or third article they put out on this series. Not only that, CNN put in their article … are saying that Donald Trump Jr. met with “a Russian government-linked lawyer,” or something like this, and that’s actually not true. So the mainstream media have spun this thing to the point where they are actually spinning disinformation.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.