No single stand has hobbled Donald Trump’s presidency more than his attitude toward Russia.
During the presidential campaign, he conspicuously praised Vladimir Putin, and refused to condemn his seizure of Crimea. Trump also publicly called for Russia to release emails hacked from Hillary Clinton, something his aides said was a joke. Trump’s perceived softness on Putin seems to have encouraged advisers like George Papadopoulos and perhaps Michael Flynn to make overtures to the Kremlin, whether Trump intended that or not.
Once in office, Trump’s apparent Russophilia has continued to dog him. His refusal to acknowledge Russian meddling in the election, and his eagerness to stifle or shut down any investigation that touched on it, has directly or indirectly produced tremendous legal and political peril for Trump. Polls show support for Special Counel Robert Mueller, concern that Trump obstructed justice, and worries that the president doesn’t take Russia seriously enough. Russia is hardly the only problem the president has, but it is the largest and most multifarious. No matter what Trump does for the rest of his term, he will be unable to undo the damage of his strange stance toward Russia so far.
Which is one reason why recent events in the Trump-Russia relationship are so strange: Every indication points to the president coming to a harsher stance toward the Kremlin. The major example of this is the tough line the White House took over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in London. Not only did the Trump administration join with nearly 30 other countries expelling Russian officials, but the U.S. reaction—60 diplomats or spies kicked out, and a consulate shuttered—dwarfed any other nation’s steps. Meanwhile, Russia’s new ambassador to the U.S. has seen doors figuratively slammed in his face as he tries to settle …read more
Via:: The Atlantic