The Trump-Putin summit: Hired hand at work?

First was Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Second was Russia’s presence in Syria.

Third was the unlawful Russian annexation of Crimea.

Fourth was Russia’s intrusion into eastern Ukraine.

Fifth was Russia’s continued and ominous expressions of “concern” for Russian speakers in the Baltic states, particularly Latvia and Estonia, that echo some of the rhetoric prior to Putin’s actions in Ukraine.

Sixth was Russia’s possible help to North Korea given Putin, after all, was reportedly the one who suggested Trump scrap joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises.

But it’s the first lost opportunity that was most astonishing. Trump didn’t criticize the Russians. Instead, he backed Putin’s laughable denials that Russia had meddled in American politics, sneering at U.S. intelligence and justice officials who beg to differ.