The Russia watchTrump-Putin summit anxiety; cyberwar without a rulebook; combating disinformation, and more

Published 11 July 2018

•  The Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki

•  The EU and NATO and Trump — Oh My!

•  Greece to expel, ban Russian diplomats

•  What Trump’s Supreme Court pick means for the Russia probe

•  Waging cyber war without a rulebook

•  Information operations are a cybersecurity problem: Toward a new strategic paradigm to combat disinformation

•  GOP senators tell contradictory stories about Moscow trip

•  Giuliani works for foreign clients while serving as Trump’s attorney

•  Former Putin adviser has secret investment in US energy firm praised by Trump

The Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki (Economist)
President Donald Trump has insisted on seeing his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, one-on-one, with no witness present, during their summit in Helsinki on July 16th – but it is surprising that he could consider such a precaution necessary. To amend one of his more outlandish boasts, Mr. Trump could walk down Fifth Avenue and publicly thank Mr. Putin for his help in delivering him the White House and it might not cost him a vote. Of all the ways Mr. Trump has altered the party of Ronald Reagan, none is more remarkable than its new complacency about Mr. Putin and his ongoing effort to undermine American democracy.
Before Mr. Trump entered politics in 2015, Republicans took a bleaker view of Russia than Democrats. Yet over the course of a presidential run in which Mr. Trump expressed bizarre, fawning admiration for the Russian strongman, Republican opinion flipped. The proportion of Republicans who approved of Mr. Putin doubled, to around 25 percent. And despite subsequent revelations that Russian spies were all the while flooding social media with pro-Trump propaganda and otherwise manipulating the election in his favor—decisively, in the view of James Clapper, a former director of national intelligence—Republican voters appear if anything more relaxed about the Russian threat now. Defying America’s own intelligence agencies, Mr. Trump maintains there was no Russian meddling. Most Republicans say they agree with him—despite evidence suggesting senior members of Mr. Trump’s campaign team knew of and welcomed the Russian help. Today, around half say they consider Russia friendly.
The president’s desire to be soft on his Russian counterpart (while claiming to be so tough) and his supporters’ willingness to accept whatever compromise he might have in mind—on Syria, Crimea, or whatever—are beyond doubt. The most cautionary precursor to Helsinki, a report issued [last] week by the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee that confirms the agencies’ view on Russian election-meddling, has been mocked or ignored in conservative media. This is new terrain for America. It means that whatever reset Mr. Trump may have in mind for Russia will be far less credible, far more divisive and tarnished by partisanship than the corresponding efforts of his two immediate predecessors in the White House. (Cont.)