American journalists at the joint press conference between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday focused their questions on allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
One American even asked Putin whether his government had any “compromising material” on Trump — a suspicion encouraged by the infamous Russian “dossier,” an opposition research document that led the FBI to conduct surveillance of Trump campaign staff.
It fell to the Russian journalists alone to ask serious questions about foreign policy — one relating to the controversy over Russian energy deals with Europe, and one relating to potential cooperation between the U.S. and Russia in the ongoing Syrian conflict.
The only mention of foreign policy by an American journalist was a brief mention of Crimea in a question to President Putin.
The following are the questions asked by journalists from both Russia and the U.S., as drawn from a Washington Post transcript (via Bloomberg). When one journalist asked several questions, including follow-ups, these were consolidated into one question.
- During your recent European tour, you mentioned that implementation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline makes Europe a hostage of Russia, and you suggested that you could free Europe from this by supplying American LNG. But this cold winter actually showed that the current modal — current mechanism of supply of fuel to Europe is quite viable. At the same time, as far as I know, U.S. had to buy even Russian gas for Boston. I have a question: The implementation of your idea has a political tinge to it or is it a practical one? Because there will be a gap formed in the supply-and-demand mechanism and the first is the consuming countries who will fall into this gap. And the second question, before the meeting with President Putin, you called him an adversary, a rival, and yet you expressed hope that you will be able to bring this relationship to a new level. Did you manage to do this?
- Mr. President, would you please go into the details of possibly any specific arrangements for the U.S. to work together with Russia in Syria, if any of these kind of arrangements were made today or discussed? And my question to President Putin in Russian. Since we — we brought up the issue of football several times, I ask — use the football language. Mr. Pompeo mentioned that when we talk about the Syrian cooperation, the ball is in the Syrian court. Mr. Putin — in the Russian court — is it true? And how would you use this fact, the — the — having the ball? Excuse me, but for now, no specific agreements, for instance, between the militaries…
- Mr. President, you tweeted this morning that it’s U.S. foolishness, stupidity and the Mueller probe that is responsible for the decline in U.S. relations with Russia. Do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular? And if so, what would you — what would you consider them — that they are responsible for?
- For President Putin, if I could follow up as well, why should Americans and why should President Trump believe your statement that Russia did not intervene in the 2016 election, given the evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies have provided? And will you consider extraditing the 12 Russian officials that were indicted last week by a U.S. grand jury? And did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?
- A question for each president; President Trump, you first. Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. What — who — my first question for you, sir, is who do you believe? My second question is would you now, with the whole world watching, tell President Putin, would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again? A question for President — for President Putin. Thank you. Two questions for you, sir. Can you tell me what President Trump may have indicated to you about officially recognizing Crimea as part of Russia? And then secondly, sir, do you, does the Russian government have any compromising material on President Trump or his family?
One journalist accredited with the left-wing American magazine The Nation was ejected from the conference for staging a protest.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
This post has been updated to note that an American journalist did ask about Crimea — before asking whether Putin had compromising material on Trump.