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Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.


Backpedaling: News about American-Russian relations is dizzying lately

Find an article or opinion column about the American-Russian relationship. Summarize at least one key point.
Share a quote from other news about the president or his administration. Tell why you picked it.
Look for a letter to the editor about the president or media coverage of him, or a comment below an article. Why do you agree or disagree with the reader?

Last week was a tumultuous one for the White House, to put it mildly. It began with a private meeting in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, between President Trump and President Vladimir Putin of Russia. During a freewheeling news conference there that lasted 46 minutes, the American leader spoke about Putin with warmth and trust. In a reply that made global news, Trump said he saw "no reason why it would be Russia" that was behind the 2016 cyber-theft of messages and documents from the Democratic National Committee and his campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, as well as political mischief on social media during election season. Two days later, back at the White House, the president said he meant the opposite: "There's no reason why it wouldn't be Russia." (See video below.)

More backpedaling followed as Trump said he agrees with evaluations by U.S. intelligence analysts, which he had seemed to suggest were as credible as Putin, and then rebuffed a Russian request to interview Americans, including a past ambassador, it accuses of crimes in exchange for letting a Justice Department special counsel question 12 indicted political hackers. In Helsinki, Trump called it "an incredible offer" and his press secretary later surprised the State Department and Republicans in Congress by saying the "interesting idea" was under review. Prominent diplomats and other former federal officials expressed outrage that Trump was even considering it.

"It was all one giant, self-inflicted wound," a Washington Post analysis says. A U.S. House member from Trump's party, Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, thinks it's time to remind Americans "that Russia is our adversary, not our ally, and the reasons for today's tensions go back much farther than the 2016 election." But wait, there’s more: Before the weekdays gave way to a presidential golfing break, he invited Putin to Washington this fall. A wire service, Reuters, reports the impact this way: "The coveted invitation was sure to be seen as a victory by Putin, whose last official visit to the United States was in July 2007." For his part, Trump tweets: "I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed, including stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more. There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems -- but they can ALL be solved!"

Republican congressman says: "By playing into Vladimir Putin’s hands, the leader of the free world actively participated in a Russian disinformation campaign that legitimized Russian denial and weakened the credibility of the United States." -- Rep. Will Hurd of Texas

Journalist writes: "It all did precisely what Putin hopes and what Trump seems to fear most: made Trump look weak and ineffectual." – Aaron Blake, The Washington Post

Columnist writes: "Donald Trump's 'Surrender Summit' with President Vladimir Putin of Russia was such a disloyal, traitorous display that it boggles the mind." – Charles Blow, The New York Times

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for, Copyright 2019
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