President Donald Trump’s siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin rather than his own intelligence services — who said Russia had meddled in the U.S. election in 2016 — has prompted a litany of eye-grabbing headlines in the press.
Trump's summit with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday saw the leaders chat in private before a press conference during which Trump made waves by saying that, despite advice from the U.S. Intelligence community, he believed Putin's repudiation of the allegations.
Trump's refusal to condemn Russia has largely prompted consternation, scorn and disbelief from politicians, pundits and the press.
Most newspapers Tuesday morning went for variations on the theme — Trump appearing to side with Putin — with an image of the men shaking hands featuring widely on front pages around the world.
Headlines have mainly followed the lines of: “Trump backs Putin over FBI in election meddling row,” “Trump sides with Russia over FBI” or “Trump defends Putin over U.S. election meddling accusations,” as per Britain's The Daily Telegraph, Metro and Financial Times newspapers.
Others, following a meeting that shocked Republicans and Democrats alike for Trump’s apparently all-too-easy trust of Putin’s word, led with the condemnation waiting for Trump at home in the U.S.
“Trump faces backlash after hailing ‘productive’ summit with Putin,” conservative U.K. broadsheet The Times stated. The U.K.'s left-leaning Guardian newspaper went further, quoting former CIA director John Brennan in its headline that stated “’Nothing short of treasonous:' Trump accused over Putin talks.”
Reflecting on an "extraordinary summit," the U.K.'s Sky News ventured further, asking "Could Donald Trump be impeached after 'disgraceful' news conference with Vladimir Putin?"
In continental Europe, Germany's Die Welt online news site carried the headline, "After Trump's performance, even Republicans talk of betrayal" and Spain's El Pais went for a similar line, saying Trump had caused "indignation" among Republicans. France's Les Echos noted that the "U.S. president scandalized the American public by saying Monday that there was no collusion during the last election campaign." Italy's Corriere della Sera noted that "Trump did not listen to advice and immediately capitulated on 'Russiagate.'"
Other headlines and cartoons were scathing: The Mirror, a U.K. left-leaning tabloid, has “Putin’s Poodle” emblazoned on its front page while the Daily Express, another British tabloid, bannered “Cold War is over, Putin tells his new best buddy.”
The New York Daily News carried the headline, “Open Treason,” with a cartoon by Bill Bramhall on the front page depicting Trump shooting Uncle Sam in the head.
Many online news sites, which can easily change their lead stories and feature more of an array of opinion and analysis, also lambasted Trump.
The Washington Post was unequivocal in its take on the summit, with headlines of reaction pieces, op-eds and analysis including “‘Very much counter to the plan:' Trump defies advisers in embrace of Putin,” “The moment called for Trump to stand up for America. He chose to bow” and “‘Disgraceful,’ ‘shameful:' Trump’s defense of Putin finds few supporters in Congress.”
Meanwhile, the online version of The New York Times led with the factual “Trump, at Putin’s side, questions U.S. Intelligence on 2016 election” and “Some Republicans rebuke Trump for siding with Putin,” but also carried an opinion piece by White House correspondent Mark Landler headlined ”Trump sheds all notions of how a president should conduct himself abroad.”
The Wall Street Journal's Gerald F. Seib noted that, "It was possible that Vladimir Putin would be in a tough spot after his summit with President Trump. Instead, most of the squirming is being done by Republicans in Congress, the U.S. intelligence community and overseas allies," under the headline "Trump Leaves GOP, intelligence community and allies in the hot seat."
Not everyone was displeased with Trump. Unsurprisingly, the right-wing Breitbart News' Senior Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak leaped to Trump's defense, calling the summit a "success the media can't admit."