(The Nation) -- We still don’t know what transpired in Donald Trump’s unprecedented, ill-advised, two-hour private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday. In the absence of information about the meeting—Putin says the two men reached agreements on nuclear weapons and Syria; Trump reportedly still hasn’t told his foreign-policy or national-security staff what was discussed—we are left to scrutinize photos for clues. Leaving the meeting, in most photos I’ve seen, Putin looked lordly; Trump looked humbled, chastened, miserable. On social media his critics were comparing him to Reek, the tortured, castrated Theon Greyjoy alter ego in Game of Thrones. We saw Trump suck up to Putin unbearably in their joint press conference, accepting his denials of 2016 election interference and entertaining his suggestion that the United States would turn over some former diplomats for Russian questioning.
Maybe, as we scrutinize the photos, we’re looking too hard to find evidence of what many have concluded this week: that Putin has something on Trump. He knows secrets. They may be financial misdeeds; they could involve Russian election subversion in 2016; Russian money-laundering over decades; they may be sexual. Or all of the above. That Trump is compromised would certainly be the most straightforward explanation for his uncharacteristic meekness and subservience to Putin.
This might also have been the week when things began to deteriorate for Trump, when even Republicans begin to reckon with his erratic governance, his inscrutable foreign policy, his corruption, his evasions and his many lies.
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