American President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their much-anticipated summit on Wednesday in Geneva.
Biden refused to hold a joint press conference with the authoritarian.
“The reason why it certainly wasn’t in our interest to have a joint press conference was again Putin’s desire to be seen as on a par with the U.S. president — this is what he wants to get out of it,” a senior U.S. official told the Washington Examiner.
Instead, the two leaders help separate Q&A sessions with the media. Their remarks were mostly innocuous, but Biden pledged “consequences” if Putin continued to meddle in U.S. elections.
That’s a far cry from what then-President Trump said when he was asked about Russian election meddling in Helsinki in 2018, during his joint press appearance with Putin. CNN provides a summary:
US President Donald Trump, in a stunning rebuke of the US intelligence community, declined on Monday to endorse the US government’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, saying he doesn’t “see any reason why” Russia would be responsible.
Instead, Trump – standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin – touted Putin’s vigorous denial and pivoted to complaining about the Democratic National Committee’s server and missing emails from Hillary Clinton’s personal account.
“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said during a joint news conference after he spent about two hours in a room alone with Putin, save for a pair of interpreters.
Trump’s deference to Putin was widely criticized – and he eventually walked back the comments.
George Conway, found of the Lincoln Project, conservative lawyer turned Trump critic, was thinking of the encounter as he watched the Biden-Putin summit today. It’s our quote of the day.
Reflecting on the Helsinki meltdown, Fiona Hill, a Russia expert that worked in the Trump administration, told CNN it was “mortifying and frankly humiliating for the country.”
“I had the same feeling Deborah Birx had during the infamous press conference where there was the suggestion by President Trump about injecting bleach to counteract coronavirus,” Hill said.