Separating the Pepper from the Rat Poop
Say President Trump defined the purpose of the visit in these terms... "Determine the best away to mitigate the issues of, Soviet Adventurism, Soviet Election Meddling, and reduction of the Soviet Nuclear Weapon's arsenal."
So far so good... He would have told his staff to study these three things and give him some alternatives and a recommendation. By Staff I mean his cabinet, led by his chief of staff. The staff would be told to gather facts and assumptions bearing on the problems. The intelligence agencies, the CIA and DIA and a host of others would be asked to help gather and develop information pertaining to these issues.
In theory the CIA and DIA are quasi-independent. They need to be free of political influence to insure that the information they provide is untainted by bias. In reality these agencies get seeded each election cycle by the administration in power and these new players carry the taint, to one degree or another, brought into the process by political appointment. What this means is that even if the Director is replaced when a new political administration comes to power, much of the rank and file contain the bias of the appointing authority that recruited, trained and monitored their daily activities. For example John Brennan and James Clapper were Obama appointees who owed their job to the previous administration. They provided intelligence information, to Susan Rice, The National Security Advisor. She took this information and used it to selectively attack members of the incoming administration, one of whom was General Flynn, her scheduled replacement. Once Clapper, Brennan and Rice were out of the picture there were still many others who remained in the system who shared their loyalties, political views and bias. Some of these individuals, no doubt, continued to do great service to the United States by providing continuity, doing their jobs and not allowing personal feelings to influence their work. There were, however, others who felt obliged to use the power of their office in ways to hamstring the incoming administration and thwart the will of the Elective Process. Two classic examples are Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, however there are many more who bitterly resented the unexpected turn of events that forced them from power.
One the eve of his trip to Helsinki, we could expect to see president Trump getting all manner of advice from his staff and the Intelligence Agencies. HOWEVER, Unexpectedly, and at the last minute, DOJ dropped a bomb shell. Rob Rosenstein told the President that 12 Russian agents were being Indicted for "Meddling" in the 2016 Election. SURPRISE, SURPRISE! All leaders and managers hate it when this happens. It was an overt attempt to insure that President Trump did not secure another foreign policy coup similar to the one he achieved with North Korea. So how do you suppose the President was inclined to react after being sandbagged once again by the very agencies and individuals who are supposed to be supporting him? At the very least he must have seen the timing as suspicious. "HERE WE GO AGAIN," he must have thought, shaking his head. Even if he did believe the truth of it all, he would have seen this as an attempt by the left to turn something good into something bad. What his detractors were angling for was a cancelation of the trip or goading President Trump into a heated exchange with Putin. Either outcome would be acceptable, anything but another Trump success... Anything to stop the snowballing momentum of his Presidency. The Liberals wanted the President to brandish the inditements, shake them in Putin's face and accuse him, before the whole world of "MEDDLING." OK, so what is that word actually supposed to mean?
What is the meddling discussion really all about? Is it about (1) Russian actions designed to favor one candidate over the other, (2) efforts to generally destabilized the electoral process or (3) routine intelligence gathering activities that every country is involved in. Russia is not the only country involved in cyber-espionage. So it is with the United States... and as it is with the State of Israel, and so with a host of others, not the least of whom is China. If the definition is broadly construed to include all three, then what is happening is nothing more than what has been going on for a long time. It is business as usual. Of course the Soviets hacked the DNC and HIllary's computer, and in the process hit the mother lode. These servers, which were virtually unprotected, had all manner of classified information, some of which included the most sensitive and close hold in the land. Many emails were smoking guns that led directly to the methods and means by which we know things we shouldn't... but somehow manage to find out. Why would the Russians not "hack" into this bonanza provided on a silver platter? What Hillary did was one of many acts of poor judgement that plagued her tenure at the State Department and lead up her loss in the 2016 elections.
Did the Russians favor one candidate over the other? Our Intelligence agencies today think that just because they listen in on a telephone conversation between two top officials of a foreign entity that everything being discussed is the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. They need to quit thinking this nonsense and realize that while foreign governments don't know exactly how we are listening in, they can take protective measures and when they receive indications that it is indeed taking place can respond by providing misinformation. Before we had all these fandango eavesdropping devices our assessment of what a foreign government was up to was based on National Interests. Unfortunately this assumption has fallen out of vogue. Today the assumption is that if "Boris" said it over the telephone then it must be true instead of bouncing it off the time proven litmus test. If you ask the National Interest question, "Who would the Soviet preferred to become president in the 2016 election the answer is rather obvious. Barrack Obama had given the Soviet Union a virtual free pass, by pulling back on US influence. The Russians took advantage of American weakness by aggressive acts in Europe and destabilizing Syria. The Muslin invasion of Europe by refuges, fleeing that horiffic conflict, will have adverse consequences for generations to come. The "Sweetheart" pipeline deal with Germany will undermine the trust between NATO partners and lead to the diminishment of the European Union. This was where the weakness of Obama's foreign policy brought the world. For the Soviets, looking at the 2016 elections, Hillary Clinton offered the promise of eight more years of malaise. Donald Trump was Russian's worst nightmare. He was a capitalist of proven talent and promised to "Make America Great Again." The thought of the ghost of Ronald Regan rearing its head sends cold shivers through the Kremlin. There's no doubt who the Russians wanted to see elected.
If all the Russians wanted to do was sew the seeds of further discord into the electoral process then they they must not have seen it as very viable, likely to yield much of a return. The amounts they spent were so trivial that they border on the absurd. So what, if they tossed a few shekels in that direction. The United States has been meddling in foreign elections forever, the most recent example was Obama sending agents to Israel to unseat the Prime Minister. This aspect of the meddling is so ongoing and hypocritical it takes cheek to complain. Radio Free Europe has been broadcasting for years to sow seeds of doubt and mistrust among Russia and her allies. If we don't like meddling there is plenty of room for negotiating an end to it.
I realize I've digressed from discussing the staff process in decision making. I will pick it up later. It is something the media is not clear on and would benefit from a bit of elaboration.