June 17, 2021

"So after four years of obsequious deference to Donald Trump, Republicans say it's Joe Biden who is soft on Russia. John Avlon with a reality check," John Berman said.

"The big lie is now the operating assumption of most Republicans. Lie big, lie loud. And assume the base won't know or care as long as they get their quick fix of confirmation bias," Avlon said.

"But you almost have to laugh when you saw them practically rooting for Russia, trying to frame the Biden/Putin summit by saying, wait for it, that Joe Biden would be too soft on Vladimir Putin. I mean, it's kind of hard to keep a straight face, especially when someone with the moral compass of a weathervane like Sen. Lindsey Graham accused Biden of appeasement before the summit. Even the RNC comms team must have been a little bit embarrassed when they put out a press release saying that 'giving Putin the meeting was just the latest win Biden has handed Russia.'

"I mean, these are the same folks who willfully ignored and therefore enabled Donald Trump's virtual fealty to Putin for years, his weak-kneed refusal to ever condemn or confront the Kremlin. Going so far as to take Putin's word over the U.S. intelligence committee about their clear interference in our elections on Trump's behalf. Those comments from the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki were so pathetic that Trump's own Russia adviser Fiona Hill told CNN she thought about pulling a fire alarm or faking a medical emergency to stop the humiliating spectacle.

"In contrast, Biden has a long record of condemning Russian aggression, going back to at least the invasion of Georgia in 2008. Since taking office, he's unleashed extensive sanctions on Russia over 2020 election meddling and its role in the Solarwinds cyberattack which Trump never condemned because, of course. That's beyond the Biden Pentagon giving $150 million and military aid to Ukraine. But we want to take you back because who could forget this killer question?

BILL O'REILLY: Putin is a killer.

TRUMP: A lot of killers. We've got a lot of killers. You think our country is so innocent?

"Gotta love the whataboutism. By contrast, here's Joe Biden."

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULUS: So you know Vladimir Putin. You think he's a killer?

BIDEN: Uh-huh, I do.

"Now, that exchange spurred Putin to challenge Biden to a debate which caused Sean Hannity to inevitably take Russia's side parroting Russia and RNC talking points in the run up to this summit. But things didn't quite go as the Slow Joe slurs would suggest. News flash: bullies respect strength, not sycophants. Putin acknowledged the deep disagreements between the two men on human rights, cyberattacks, Ukraine, but called Biden constructive, balanced, even praised his moral values which is a bit bizarre coming from Vladimir Putin. Here's how Biden described their meeting.

BIDEN: So human rights is going to always be on the table, I told him. It's not about just going after Russia when they violate human rights. It's about who we are. How could I be the president of the United States of America and not speak out against the violation of human rights?

"Seemed to work for the other guy. But all that Republican pregame summit enthusiasm for Putin translated into some postgame symmetry. So when Putin tried the old deflect-and-project regarding January 6th, that for being asked about his imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, he complained that, quote, 'People who come to the U.S. Capitol with political demands are now being called domestic terrorists.'

"It sounded a lot like Representative Louie Gohmert, who complained that Capitol Hill attackers are now being held as political prisoners. Or when Putin described rioter Ashli Babbitt as a person simply shot on the spot by police. He sounded a lot like Congressman Paul Gosar, who said Babbitt was 'executed by Capitol Hill police lying in wait.'

"So spare us all this talk of Joe Biden being weak on Russia when Trump acted like a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Kremlin for years. All it shows is Republicans' contempt for the intelligence of their supporters and their increasingly authoritarian impulses.

"And that's your reality check."

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