After Russia expelled American diplomats on Thursday, the White House promised they would “deal with it”.
“Russia’s action today to expel American diplomats marks a further deterioration in the United States-Russia relationship,” the White House said in a statement from the Office of the Press Secretary. “The expulsion of undeclared Russian intelligence officers by the United States and more than two dozen partner nations and NATO allies earlier this week was an appropriate response to the Russian attack on the soil of the United Kingdom. Russia’s response was not unanticipated, and the United States will deal with it.”
We can only hope that they “deal with it” better than they have Russia’s act of war on the United States via their attack on our elections and foundation of our democracy. That is to say, this is a White House that behaves as if it is terrified of Putin. When Trump isn’t praising Putin or giving Russians access to the Oval Office without telling anyone, he’s ignoring Russian ships playing BMOC games off of our shores.
The State Department put out an equally weak statement, claiming they reserved the right to do something.
“It’s clear from the list provided to us that the Russian Federation is not interested in a dialogue on issues that matter to our two countries,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters. “We reserve the right to respond.”
Well! How’s that Republican strength on national security and patriotism doing? Not so well, I’m afraid.
Trump has yet to stand up to Putin, ever. Trump has refused to enforce the Congressional sanctions (the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) against Russia. In January, Trump refused to implement new, legally mandated sanctions against Russia. Since Trump made this shocking proclamation, 13 Russians have been indicted and the intelligence community warned Congress that Russia has not stopped interfering in American democracy.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement that the sanctions weren’t really needed because, “Since the enactment of the … legislation, we estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions.”
That’s another way of saying we gave the world the green light to do business with Russia after they declared war on the United States. Also known as Nothing Burger Action.
We are under attack and continue to be so, but Trump has refused to take a stand. He has even refused to admit what the sanctions are for — after all, they are sanctions for Putin interfering in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win, so it’s no wonder Trump doesn’t want to acknowledge their purpose. But a better president would at least pretend to care about his country.
Republicans like to say Trump published a list of Russian oligarchs to name and shame them, but the truth is the administration was required to publish that list by the Congressional Act.
The strongest thing that has happened under Trump, and it happened begrudgingly after our allies did it, when there was really no other course of action that would be acceptable, was the expulsion of 60 Russians after the Russian poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a military-grade nerve agent.
Trump acts as if he is afraid of Putin, and since it’s looking more and more as if the Trump campaign did actually collude with Russia to win the 2016 election, he has many reasons to be fearful and subservient to Putin. Putin made Trump and Trump knows it.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.