President Donald Trump has already reached an agreement with one top Russian government official, who appears to be in lockstep with the U.S. leader, at least on Twitter, over his assessment of White House-Kremlin relations.
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Just hours before his first formal faceoff with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump tweeted, "Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!"
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affair, headed by Sergey Lavrov, responded to Trump's tweet with a two-word Twitter post: "We Agree."
The Russian government has blamed the United States for the dire state of relations between the two superpowers for years, accusing it of launching unilateral sanctions, trying to stir up unrest in Russia and its former Soviet satellites and, most recently, of inventing the election meddling story.
The precipitous nosedive in diplomatic relations began with Russia's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. The United States under the Obama administration responded, along with Europe and much of the international community, by trying to isolate Russia and imposing stiff sanctions. Since then, relations have grown rockier.
Trump and Putin are meeting one on one in Helsinki, Finland, in their first substantial talks since Trump became president.
The summit comes just days after special counsel Robert Mueller issued indictments on 12 Russian spies for their alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2018
Trump is under pressure from Democrats and some Republicans, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, to confront Putin on Russia's tampering with the election.
Trump has insisted that there was no collusion between Russia and members of his presidential campaign staff.
It was the second time since the dozen Russian intelligence officers were indicted Friday that Trump described the Mueller probe as a "rigged witch hunt."
During an interview Sunday on ABC News’ "This Week," White House national security adviser John Bolton tried to explain the deeper meaning of Trump's "rigged witch hunt" tweets.
"I think that what he's suggesting is that his political opponents in the United States for well over a year and a half have been trying to say that somehow he's a dupe of the Russian Intelligence Services, that he's an agent of the Kremlin, that he's been compromised by Russia, that he's linked to Russia, that he takes orders from Vladimir Putin," Bolton said. "I mean, really the conspiracies are about as obscure as you can imagine, just subjects of people's imagination. That's what he's talking about."