Intensely negative reaction among liberal Democrats and progressives to President Donald Trump’s joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday in Helsinki, Finland, has been nearly unanimous.
Not Glenn Greenwald, though.
The left-wing journalist and founder of The Intercept said Tuesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show” that some of the over-the-top critiques have been offensive and dangerous. Former CIA Director John Brennan, for example, went so far as to use the word “treasonous” to describe Trump’s refusal to support his intelligence services’ conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
“To cast a desire to forge better relations with even our most intense adversaries as some kind of treason is not only legally and constitutionally ignorant, since treason is the aiding and abetting of an enemy at war — and we’re not actually at war with Russia — but also an incredibly dangerous thing to do in terms of the climate,” he said.
Greenwald said Trump’s performance during Monday’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin is worthy of criticism. But he said it makes no sense to discourage communication between the two countries.
“It’s complete lunacy,” he said. “The U.S. and Russia have 90 percent of the nuclear weapons on this planet. They have come close on multiple occasions throughout their history to literally annihilating the human species.”
Greenwald said both the United States and Russia routinely engage in espionage against each other. He said it is reasonable for the United States to try to prevent Russian activities, but he added that Trump critics have lost all perspective in comparing Russian election meddling to events like the Japanese sneak attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor during World War II.
“I mean, that is so offensive, and so insane,” he said. “And, again, you’re talking about ratcheting up tensions recklessly between two countries that still have thousands of nuclear-tipped missiles pointed at one another’s cities with archaic Cold War trigger systems — it is really the height of reckless lunacy.”
Greenwald pointed to Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks, who on MSNBC equated Trump’s news conference with Kristallnacht, the infamous “Night of Broken Glass,” in which Nazi thugs vandalized Jewish-owned businesses in 1938.
“What’s more trivializing than equating a press conference between two foreign leaders — even if you think Trump didn’t handle himself well — with the start of the Nazis extinguishing of Jews on a genocidal scale?” he said. “I mean, to use that language is grotesque.”
Greenwald said Trump has taken shots from all sides.
“It’s not just from the Left,” he said. “It’s from the media. It’s from lots of Republicans, not even just neocons — that Trump somehow betrayed the country — is really unhinged rhetoric that I think has the chance to produce some really dangerous results.”
Greenwald noted that the United States has maintained close relations for decades with some of the most repressive regimes in the world.
“President [Barack] Obama embraced all sorts of strongmen, including the Egyptian dictator and lots of others,” he said. “So this idea that this is some sort of new Trumpian invention is revisionist, you know, fairy tales.”
Greenwald also pointed out that the actual policies of the Trump administration are more confrontational toward Russia than Obama’s. That includes providing lethal arms to Ukraine — a step Obama rejected following Russia’s invasion of the neighboring country. Trump also bombed Russian ally Syria, Greenwald said.
“I actually prefer Obama’s approach, because I think that the U.S. and Russia should try to cooperate,” he said. “But all I’m saying is that the narrative here that Trump is some kind of controlled by Putin, that he has blackmail over him, that Trump is a puppet of the Kremlin, is completely negated by actual reality.”