The Justice Department’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election comes at a pretty dramatic time: just three days before President Trump’s already highly controversial meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer today called on Trump to cancel the meeting, calling the indictments provide “further proof of what everyone but the president seems to understand: President Putin is an adversary who interfered in our elections to help President Trump win.” He added that “Glad-handing with Vladimir Putin on the heels of these indictments would be an insult to our democracy.”
Given Trump’s attitude toward both the Mueller investigation and Putin (and Schumer), it seems pretty unlikely he will call off the summit he’s been pressing for since the earliest days of his presidency. After previous conversations with Putin, Trump has said he accepts the Russian leaders denials of election interference. “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that. And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it,” he said after a meeting with Putin at a summit in Vietnam last year. Just last month, Trump tweeted, “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!”
Given that they are meeting one-on-one on Monday, we probably won’t know much of what is discussed. But it’s a fair bet that a strenuous cross-examination about the contents of today’s indictments won’t be on the agenda.