Americans still deserve to know what Trump said to Putin

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock
Nothing that happened during today's meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to attract as much attention as the 2018 Helsinki Summit between Putin and then-President Donald Trump. That was the meeting at which Trump so memorably turned around and showed his guts to the Russian leader and sided with Putin over US intelligence over Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.
"I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful today," Trump told reporters. It was a breathtaking moment, and a number of leading Republicans even sharply criticized Trump - but then carried on as before.
Democrats in Congress spent several years trying to find out more about the content of Trump and Putin's private talks, and Trump himself has reportedly gone to extraordinary lengths to hide this information. "What I tell him is none of your business," he said in 2019.
Now it seems that Trump won the fight. ABC News reports that the Democrats are no longer looking for a record of the Trump-Putin meetings. "The Biden administration is excited not to be back," Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the network.
The phrase "looking ahead" is familiar to progressives who recall President Obama using it to explain why his administration would not investigate the Bush administration's use of illegal torture against terrorist suspects. Before choosing between progress and accountability, Obama chose progress. But it didn't really work out that way. Instead, Republicans were arguably encouraged to go beyond legality the next time they were in power. Where there is no accountability - and no consequences for wrongdoing - there is only impunity.
We don't know for sure if Trump did something wrong during his talks with Putin. But these conversations, which we hold as representatives of the American people, are definitely our business. It's a shame we may never find out what was said. Amnesia is our official guideline and also the result of dangerous head trauma. In both cases, it is a sign that the affected body is deeply unwell.
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Wladimir Putin
President of Russia

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