Trump Keeps Blaming Obama, But Putin Got His Own Damn Self Kicked Out Of The G8
No matter how many times President Trump deflects on that point and blames Obama, that's just what happened! We were there!
Here's a fact: In 2014, basically forever ago in internet years, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his military to infiltrate and seize Crimea, a peninsula on the Black Sea, from Ukraine, which had controlled the area since the Soviet Union dissolved.
Here's another fact: Putin then annexed Crimea, following a disputed referendum, declaring it now Russian territory. As a result of those actions, the then-G8 decided to kick out Russia, which had been a member since 1997.
Ahead of this year's G7 summit, Trump has been floating maybe bringing Russia back into the fold, a suggestion he first put forward last year. Other world leaders have written this off as a terrible idea.
In the face of this pushback, Trump has opted to revive an old favorite tactic: attacking former president Barack Obama.
Trump has tried to frame Putin's return to the table as a boon. He has also attempted to play it off as something he was just musing, claiming that he is giving voice to something many people were saying. He also has noted that much of the discussion at the meeting tends to revolve around Russia.
"I think it's much more appropriate to have Russia in," he said during a meeting with Romania's president last week. He added that "if somebody would make that motion, I would certainly be disposed to think about it very favorably."
But Trump has been the loudest voice lobbying for Russia's reentry. The president made his most direct push to his compatriots during a dinner on Saturday night. Of the leaders present, according to an account from the Guardian, only the outgoing prime minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, agreed with Trump. The heads of the UK, France, the EU, Germany, and Canada were all vehemently against the idea. (Japan's Shinzo Abe was neutral, per the Guardian, and France's Emmanuel Macron has been in favor of it — as long as the Ukraine crisis is resolved.)
“On that point … it became a bit tense to say the least,” a European diplomat told the Guardian. “Most of the other leaders insisted on this being a family, a club, a community of liberal democracies and for that reason they said you cannot allow President Putin — who does not represent that — back in.”
Journalists have been trying to get an answer out of Trump, whose affinity for Putin has been extensively documented, about just what's changed since Russia was kicked out. He's mostly deflected on that point, pointing to Obama's error in letting the annexation happen in the first place instead of grappling with the fact that Russia is still in control of the territory.
As he was preparing to take off from the White House on Friday, the president called a reporter an "organ of the Democrats" for pressing him on the matter, stressing that Obama had been "outsmarted" by Putin on Crimea.
He stuck to that talking point again, at length, on Monday at a press conference.
"If it was during my term, I would say 'Sorry, folks, I made a mistake,'" Trump said. "President Obama was helping Ukraine. Crimea was annexed during his term. It's a very big area and important area."
At the time of the crisis, Trump was very interested in making Obama appear weak in the face of Russia, tweeting that Moscow "laughs loudly" at the US's appeal not to intervene in Ukraine.
Then, when he declared that under his watch Russia would never invade Ukraine, he clarified that he meant beyond already taking over Crimea.
He then resorted to lashing out at the Obama administration, a pattern that has continued to this day.
He used the same line during a visit to the United Kingdom last year when he was asked about how he would deal with Russia's occupation of the territory.
At no time has the president ever blamed Putin, whose military took over the peninsula, for Russia taking over the peninsula.
As for whether Putin would attend the G7's meeting next year, which will be hosted in the US, potentially at a Trump-owned property, Trump said he wasn't sure. But the invite was put on the table.
"I don't know that he would accept," the US president said. "Those are tough circumstances. He was a part and all of a sudden he's not in. So I think that's a pretty tough thing for him. He's a proud person. Would I invite him? I would certainly invite him. Whether or not he could come psychologically, I think that's a tough thing for him to do. You have G8, now it's a G7, and you invite the person that was thrown out really by President Obama and really because he got outsmarted. President Obama, pure and simple."