COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. John Kasich hoped he he was wrong — that President Donald Trump would emerge from his private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin having achieved something “significant.”
But the Republican who aspires to run again for president in 2020 — after failing to take down Trump for the GOP nomination in 2016 — did not have high hopes for the Helsinki meeting.
“It’s very concerning … I just view this with great trepidation,” Kasich told CNN’s Anderson Cooper during a TV appearance on the cable network on Monday morning. “I don’t understand it, frankly.
“This is not an appropriate way to approach Putin,” the governor said prior to a press conference with Trump and Putin.
After the two leaders spoke, Kasich seemed to find confirmation of his fears, tweeting: “We need to be clear. Russia is our foe. Putin is actively trying to hurt our country. America needs to speak with one voice AGAINST Russia.”
In his CNN interview, Kasich evoked images of the “evil empire” with which President Ronald Reagan dealt during the Ohioan’s tenure in Congress and called out fellow Republicans for failing to denounce Trump’s meeting with Putin, saying their silence was “really amazing.”
Kasich recited Putin’s transgressions, from annexing Crimea to supporting Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to Russian military intelligence officers hacking Democratic computer systems, to point out what he considered inappropriate about the Putin-Trump summit.
The hacking for which 12 Russian officers were indicted last week should have been part of Trump’s “opening statement” to object to election meddling, Kasich said.
The governor also chided Trump for mistreating America’s allies — even using the phrase “one-on-one bullying” — during recent meetings regarding NATO and the European Union.