How The Trump-Putin Relationship Resonates With The President's Supporters
After the outburst of news at the beginning of this week from President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting in Helsinki, Finland, we decided it was time to call a special midweek news roundtable to dig into the headlines.
This couldn't wait until Friday. So we called in Paula Reid, justice and legal affairs correspondent for CBS News and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, White House correspondent for The New York Times.
On Wednesday, part of our discussion on Russia and election interference looked at how Trump's actions might be seen among his supporters. First, the president declined to back U.S. intelligence community findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, instead siding with Putin's denial.
A day later, Trump walked his statement back, saying he meant to say, "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia" interfering.
And most recently, there's even more confusion about whether or not Trump believes Russia is still targeting U.S. elections.
But Trump's supporters are still behind him.
"In the minds of many of the president's supporters, they perhaps do agree with this very unconventional diplomacy that he is engaging in with North Korea and Russia," Reid said. "They voted for him because they wanted to try something different. And they believe that election meddling has been going on for a long time, and people are just making a big deal because the 'wrong candidate' won."
We heard from one supporter on today's show.
"I wish the president hadn't backtracked, I just wish he'd stuck with what he said originally," said John from Worcester, Massachusetts. "The intelligence community has been going after him for two years. Why would he side with them when they're trying to get him out of office?"
When asked whether Trump's initial siding with Putin raised any red flags, John expressed his confidence in the president.
"I have no doubt that when it comes to American interest, this president is always going to put America first," he said.
This, says Julie Hirschfeld Davis, is "the most common view that his supporters will hold."
"That, no matter what, he is putting the country first, that he's right, that he has a reason for doing what he is doing," she explains. "And I don't think he's going to lose that core part of his base that was responsible for him winning the primary, that propelled him to winning the general election."
"His core supporters are not really moved by this. But I think the question really is, 'Well, what does everybody else think?' "