The Trump-Putin presser was unnerving. These altered presidential quotes show why.
On July 16, U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a joint press conference.
In their two-hour meeting in Finland, the two apparently discussed a wide range of topics, from the conflict in Syria to the annexation of Crimea.
But it was Trump's response to a question about 2016 election meddling that raised the most eyebrows stateside.
Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images.
When pressed about the Kremlin's cyber attacks and disinformation campaign during the presidential election, Trump avoided criticizing his Russian counterpart — and, in doing so, seemingly backed Putin's claims that Russia did not interfere.
"My people came to me, [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats came to me and some others saying they think it's Russia," Trump said. "... President Putin ... just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don’t see any reason why it would be [Russia] ... I have confidence in both parties.”
"I have great confidence in my intelligence people," Trump continued, "but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today."
Putin gave Trump a soccer ball from the recent World Cup played in Russia. Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images.
This ... is not good. Whichever way you spin it.
And TBS's "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" spun it in quite the interesting fashion.
Using altered past presidential quotes with the hashtag #BothSidesHistory, "Full Frontal" illustrated just how absurd Trump's remarks on Russian meddling truly are.
"A house divided is actually just fine," the first fake quote from Abraham Lincoln read. "Both sides are great! Excellent people on both sides."
Why is everyone so upset about the #HelsinkiSummit? Our greatest presidents did exactly what @POTUS did today.… https://t.co/6GvkfOlnlV— Full Frontal (@Full Frontal) 1531765525
"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for our dear friends in the Soviet Union," John F. Kennedy could've said (but didn't).
#BothSidesHistory https://t.co/ibXIUGwsIu— Full Frontal (@Full Frontal) 1531765526
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that the King of England treats us real good and the whole tea mess is our fault," our Founding Fathers definitely did not say.
#BothSidesHistory https://t.co/No4H8tND5E— Full Frontal (@Full Frontal) 1531765527
"This is a day that will live in normal-famy because I talked to Japan and they said they didn't do it IDK," Franklin D. Roosevelt said. (Not really, but you get how this works.)
"Mr. Gorbachev, this wall is so cute!" Ronald Reagan said. (Nope.)
#BothSidesHistory https://t.co/3cBC5pykgS— Full Frontal (@Full Frontal) 1531765529
"Full Frontal's" lighthearted spin on the Trump-Putin press conference may be a little too flippant for some to get on board with ("Funny but too soon for me, gut is still churning" one user commented in the replies). And that's understandable.
But the sobering point being made — that the moral equivalency of "both sides" is a dangerous one to promote — is resonating with many Americans.
Politicians from both sides of the aisle condemned Trump's answers at the Helsinki press conference.
"It's difficult to overstate the damage done by Donald Trump's shocking and disgraceful show of weakness on the world stage," Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth tweeted. "The strong global alliances and global belief in American leadership that he has taken just days to tear down over the last [week] will take generations to rebuild."
"Trump flattered Putin who attacked our democracy and insulted the brave men and women of our Intelligence Community," fellow Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris wrote. "It is disgraceful."
Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain also blasted Trump's refusal to condemn Putin with the world watching.
I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President… https://t.co/qwqtrGT6pU— Jeff Flake (@Jeff Flake) 1531757642
Whether it's funny fake quotes from past presidents or terrifyingly real ones from present-day senators, they both make one point crystal clear: Cozying up to — and, potentially, colluding with — authoritarians who murder journalists and rig elections in order to win is not the American way.