Trump Goes Soft On Russia Again

Ken AshfordRussia, Syria, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Trump rejected, for now at least, a fresh round of sanctions set to be imposed against Russia yesterday, a course change that underscored the schism between the president and his national security team.

Why did he do it?  Here’s what a cynic might say…

Sunday morning: Haley announces new Russia sanctions

Sunday evening: Comey says Russia may have blackmail info on Trump

Monday: Trump reverses Haley, defers sanctions

Speaking later with reporters aboard Air Force One as Trump headed to Florida, Press sec Sarah Sanders added that “the president has been clear that he’s going to be tough on Russia, but at the same time he’d still like to have a good relationship with them.” Another White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations, said Trump had decided not to go forward with the sanctions. Trump concluded that they were unnecessary because Moscow’s response to the airstrike was mainly bluster, the official said.

Which of course is beside the point. Assad will feel free to use chemical weapons on his people as long as he has Russian backing. And Russia will continue to back Assad, particularly when it comes at no cost to Russia.

NY Times:

“Trump seems to think that if he accepts what his advisers recommend on even days of the month and rejects their recommendations on odd days, the result will be a strategy,” said Stephen Sestanovich, a scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations and Columbia University who served as ambassador to former Soviet states in the 1990s.

“By and large, other governments don’t know whether to laugh or cry at all this,” Mr. Sestanovich said. “But in Russia, laughter is getting the upper hand.”

Mr. Trump was annoyed with Ms. Haley for getting out in front of the policy, the administration official said, and the president’s decision to reject sanctions left her hanging in public with her credibility on the line.

Ms. Haley has been one of the strongest critics in the administration of Russia’s behavior around the world, often speaking far more harshly than Mr. Trump would, but she has rarely been reined in publicly this way. She made no comment on Monday.

Haley should quit.