Trump and Russia

“This particular act of national decisiveness was not the one the Beltway was banking on. Of course, if Clinton had prevailed as expected, we would never have heard tell of the collusion narrative. But unwilling to take defeat lying down, and aware that its anti-Trump machinations would be exposed once the new president took office, the fabled “deep state” responded by hyping an imaginary Trump–Russia espionage conspiracy.

I use the above scare quotes advisedly. Invocations of the “deep state” by Trump votaries are overkill. I first encountered the term, years before Trump entered electoral politics, while researching post-Ottoman Turkey. To have any chance of success, Kemal Ataturk’s experiment in secularizing an Islamic society required a notorious but surreptitious power center that prevented Muslim fundamentalists from undoing cultural and political Westernization. This “deep state” was an elite inner sanctum of top government, military, and judicial officials. Notwithstanding Turkey’s ostensibly democratic system, it stood ever ready to preserve the Kemalist establishment, whether by military coup or more subtle forms of intimidation.14

This book contends that the Obama administration, abetted by Washington’s politically progressive order, exploited its control of law-enforcement and intelligence agencies to help Clinton and undermine Trump. This was a scandalous abuse of power. That’s bad enough. There is no need to hyperbolize what happened into a deep state coup, or to trivialize what life in an authoritarian society with a real deep state is like. Let’s not forget: Trump is president. The officials who politicized their law-enforcement and intelligence duties have been removed, whether by dismissal or in the ordinary transition of power from one administration to the next. Trump’s political opponents would be delighted to remove him from office, but as a practical matter, that is a pipe dream. They will have to content themselves with a democratic election, and the result will stand regardless of how the political establishment feels about it.

Now that the special prosecutor has delivered his report, can we say the collusion narrative was a “hoax”? Many do, as does the president. There is a lot to be said for this assessment, particularly insofar as it relates to the essential allegation: a Trump–Russia cyberespionage conspiracy to “steal the election.” There has never been any real evidence of this, just the sometimes lurid, sometimes laughable innuendo known as the “Steele dossier,” a slapdash collection of “intelligence” reporting, crafted by a former British spy and his former journalist partners, the anti-Trump partisans Christopher Steele and Glenn Simpson, whose work was commissioned by the Clinton campaign.

The standard dictionary definition of hoax is “something accepted or established by fraud or fabrication.” A traitorous calumny largely based on fabricated intelligence fits that bill. Nevertheless, the word “hoax” is carrying a lot of freight in Trump World—a clean bill of health in which any hint that conduct was objectionable, that Russia ties were unsavory, is a ridiculed as a #NeverTrump hallucination. I think one should be able to see the president as exonerated on a libelous allegation that smacked of treason without sticking one’s head in the sand about his strange ingratiation of Putin; about the seamy dots connecting Kremlin cronies to Trump campaign officials and business partners; and about the fact that the Putin regime did offer, and the Trump campaign did eagerly hope to receive, campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton. The latter “collusion” did not rise to the level of a criminal agreement. But the facts that it was not consummated, and that Putin may very well have been playing Trump, do not erase the collaboration. That is why collusion is a weasel word that should not be confounded, or used interchangeably, with conspiracy.

Here’s what matters in our democratic republic: Trump’s blandishments toward Russia were not hidden from voters. Ties between the Trump and Putin orbits were not merely covered by the media; they were given a criminally corrupt spin, one that the evidence has not borne out. The problem for Clinton was that Russia was simply not a salient issue in the campaign. That is not easy for us to remember after two years of Democrat-media Russo-mania. In the event, however, Russia barely registered, not just because other issues were weightier but because raising it would have been counterproductive for Democrats.

Trump promoted his anticipation of a good relationship with the Russian strongman as a campaign asset. The candidate’s business dealings with Russian oligarchs were widely reported on. So was his skepticism about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the premier Western alliance formed to oppose the Soviet Union and the bane of Putin’s revanchist ambitions. That skepticism provoked stentorian opposition to his candidacy from both the globalist Left and elements of the Reaganite Right. Moreover, Paul Manafort was scandalously removed as Trump’s campaign chairman just three months before the election when the media exposed his lucrative lobbying work for Ukraine’s Kremlin-backed former president, whose ouster triggered the Russian aggression that continues to this day.

In addition, just weeks before the election, a Clinton campaign media blitz claimed that Russia’s hacking of Democratic National Committee email accounts could be part of a coordinated Trump-Putin strategy: Kremlin help for the Republican nominee in exchange for his lifting of economic sanctions against Russia if he won. The blitz was goosed along by Obama’s Central Intelligence Agency: The CIA’s then-Director John Brennan spun up then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) with allegations that Trump’s campaign was tied to the Russian government, while Michael Morell, a Clinton booster who had been the Agency’s Acting Director, publicly described Trump as an “unwitting agent” of the Kremlin.15

Political campaigns and elections are how we sort through such claims and policy disputes. We decide who is fit for office at the ballot box. The Justice Department, the FBI, and U.S. intelligence agencies are servants of the public, not a check on the public—much less a check on the public to be wielded by a presidential candidate’s political opposition. Personally, I found Donald Trump’s indulgence toward Putin, an anti-American dictator who runs his country like a mafia don, to be contemptible. That is one of several reasons why, out of seventeen potential Republican presidential nominees, Trump was much closer to the bottom than the top of my preference list. But nobody elected the federal government and its sprawling administrative state to decide whom to place at the top of the federal government and its sprawling administrative state. That is a decision for the sovereign, the American people exercising the franchise, not the administrators of the government they elect.

It is not that Trump’s take on Russia was popular. It is that 2016 voters decided that Russia was a low priority in the greater scheme of things. That should not surprise us because Democrats, too, regarded Russia as a trifling concern … right up until Mrs. Clinton lost and they unexpectedly found themselves in need of a scapegoat.

The investigation was thus “trumped up,” as it were. As president, Donald Trump has been refreshingly tough on Moscow—considerably tougher than his predecessors over the past quarter century. Yes, candidate Trump’s Russophilic commentary disturbed national-security conservatives, yours truly among them. Still, it is simply a fact that, in recent American history, a longing for conciliation with Moscow’s rogue regime has been standard fare. To be sure, Trump’s rhetoric—unabashedly solipsistic, off-the-cuff, and sometimes inattentive, uninformed, or flatly untrue—is more jarring than that of conventional politicians. Not content merely to hope aloud for better relations, he has gone so far as to defend Putin by drawing a moral equivalence between the Kremlin’s political assassinations of dissenters and our government’s covert national-defense operations.16 But while Trump’s logorrhea is often hair-raising, his policy positions (with a few exceptions not relevant here) tend to be quotidian. That should not surprise us either, the Democrats’ Chicken Little routine notwithstanding. President Trump spent most of his politically active life prior to running for office as a non-ideological centrist who thought “Bill Clinton was a great president,” and who donated mostly to Democrats (such as Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer) and moderate Republicans (such as the late John McCain).17 His “Let’s try to get along” approach to Putin during the campaign was utterly conventional.

Ever since the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, it has been bipartisan Beltway wisdom that Russia is an essentially normal country with which we can do business—a “strategic partner,” as President George W. Bush’s administration delusionally put it in May 2008 upon submitting to Congress its U.S.–Russian Civilian Nuclear Power Agreement, four months before withdrawing the pact in humiliation when Russia, being Russia, seized territory in neighboring Georgia. But not to worry: President Obama revived the agreement 2010—if you’re keeping score, that’s in between Russia’s annexations in Georgia and its annexations in Ukraine.18

From Perestroika through Putin, our government’s perception transformed from Red Menace to La Vie en Rose. From George H. W. Bush’s “Chicken Kiev” speech through Barack Obama’s hot-mic promise of “more flexibility” on the Kremlin’s agenda of hamstringing America, Washington has regarded the regime in Moscow as a democratically-reforming, capitalism-friendly potential ally. For a fleeting moment in the 2012 campaign, GOP nominee Mitt Romney had the temerity to limn Russia as “without question, our number-one geopolitical foe”; who could forget President Obama’s censorious retort: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War has been over for 20 years.”19

On Russia, as on many things, Trump can be his own worst enemy and it is hard to feel sorry for him. To paraphrase Lenin, his opponents are trying to hang him with rope that he supplied. But his blandishments were not criminal. Given the Beltway establishment’s canoodling with the Kremlin right up until his election, Trump was like the guy left without a chair when the music stopped.

Voters, however, were not fooled. Those who cared about Russia as an election issue knew that the incumbent Democratic administration had regularly kowtowed to the Kremlin, including in the cause of kowtowing to Iran. Secretary Clinton had been that administration’s point-person on relations with Moscow for four years. Among her “accomplishments” was the promotion of Skolkovo, a suburb of Moscow slated to evolve into Russia’ Silicon Valley. With the State Department’s guidance, American technology companies (most of them Clinton Foundation donors and Bill Clinton speech sponsors) joined with Russian backers (some of them also Clinton Foundation donors) to develop state-of-the-art tech for the venture. The result? The Defense Department and the FBI assess Skolkovo as a boon for Russia’s military and cyber capabilities.20 (Did I mention that our intelligence agencies attribute Moscow’s interference in political campaigns throughout the West to its military and cyber capabilities?)

Candidate Clinton and her husband had disturbing Russia ties, too. In an episode that oozed self-dealing, Secretary Clinton helped greenlight Russia’s acquisition of a fifth of U.S. uranium stock, through its state-controlled energy giant, Rosatom—even though the Justice Department had an active racketeering investigation against Rosatom’s American subsidiary, and even though the United States does not produce nearly enough uranium to meet our own energy needs.21 While approval was pending, a Russian bank that promotes Rosatom paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a short speech in Moscow. The former president met with Putin and his factotum, Dmitry Medvedev, during the trip—which may have mooted a planned get-together with a Rosatom board member. The uranium stock sold to Rosatom had been held by Uranium One, a company controlled by Clinton backers. Their acquisition of the valuable uranium assets eventually sold to Russia was due to Bill Clinton’s intercession with Kazakhstan’s Kremlin-allied dictator in 2005, after which an eye-popping $145 million flowed into the Clinton Foundation.22

The public’s indifference to Russia as a 2016 campaign issue can be summed up in one word: Clinton. Again, it is the word that explains virtually every Democratic failure to exploit Trump’s vulnerabilities.

Until Trump was elected, indifference to Russia and the possibility of foreign interference in our political campaign was the standard government position, too. President Obama and his intelligence agencies were thoroughly informed about Russia’s cyber operations, which mostly—but not exclusively—targeted Democratic campaigns. Yet the administration took no meaningful action. Obama publicly scoffed at the notion that the Kremlin could affect the outcome of a presidential election. Clinton took great umbrage, during the final debate between the candidates, at Trump’s refusal to concede that the election could be anything but fair and legitimate—a message echoed by Obama. With Hillary a shoo-in to win, Democrats were not going to permit any intimation that the process was rigged.

Republicans knew all about Trump’s wheedling of Putin. It was not a secret. Indeed, many Republicans were chagrined over the nomination precisely because they detected in Trump’s Russia rhetoric traces of an isolationist streak, antithetical to GOP doctrine that America’s prosperity hinges on our standing as the fully engaged leader of the free world. That most of these Republicans “came home” on Election Day was not due to a sudden comfort level found with Trump, but to disdain for Clinton—particularly after eight years of a foreign policy marked by American retreat and decline, a policy she’d helped steer.

The Trump–Russia tale was no secret. Voters, however, were far more animated by the question of which candidate should be trusted to fill the Supreme Court seat left open by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February 2016. Should it be the avowedly progressive Democrat, or the Republican who’d committed to appoint conservative jurists in the Scalia mold? The vacancy concentrated the electorate’s mind on the gravity of the Supreme Court’s work; the ideological deadlock that hamstrung its capacity to decide major cases; the advanced ages of several justices, making it highly likely that the next president would make multiple appointments and shape the philosophical bent of the judiciary for a generation to come.

Beyond that, the attention of Americans was consumed by the future of health care, the challenges of border security and illegal immigration, safety from terrorist attacks, the weak recovery from the financial crisis, the tension between maintaining low crime rates and addressing calls for criminal-justice reform, the opioid crisis, and the anxieties of middle-class Americans. The question of which candidate was apt to be weaker on Russia, a shell of its former Soviet self, was a comparative non-factor. It’s not that nobody knew. Nobody cared … least of all Democrats, for whom the matter of Russian aggression would have been shoved right back in the appeasement drawer the moment Clinton’s slam-dunk victory was announced the night of November 8.

But she lost, so we’ve had three years of collusion narrative.

This is a book about that narrative. It is a complex, fascinating story about storytelling: about how critical it is in Information Age politics, and how dangerous it can be when the government dabbles in it, politicizing intelligence and putting its partisan thumb on the scale of electoral politics.

Writing a book about a still-moving target means having to break off a piece for study while history is still unfolding. Shortly before we went to press, Special Counsel Mueller published his voluminous report. Like Mueller’s appointment, which we address toward the end, the report marks a significant shift in focus from collusion to alleged obstruction. The obstruction allegations will not be grist for courtroom prosecution, and my own view is that they are not prosecutable. In our constitutional system, responsibility for addressing alleged presidential misconduct is vested in Congress, in the impeachment process—the subject of my 2014 book, Faithless Execution. The obstruction and impeachment dynamic is still playing out. It is beyond the scope of this book … except to the extent that collusion is what got us there. It is the collusion narrative by which Donald Trump’s opponents hoped to defeat him, and if they could not defeat him, to undermine his presidency—in hopes of defeating him next time.”

Return to Ball of Collusion Table of Contents

Previous: Clinton’s Problem: Clinton

Next: The Russia Collusion Fable

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Ball of Collusion Table of Contents

  • Ball of Collusion Introduction
  • Chapter: 1: The Russia Collusion Fable
  • Chapter: 2: What Investigation … and What Started It?
  • Chapter: 3: An Old Story: Beltway Consultants as Agents of the Kremlin
  • Chapter: 4: Intel … the Obama Way
  • Chapter 5: ‘An Institutional Lack of Candor’
  • Chapter 6: Collusion: Foreign Governments, the Obama Administration, and the Clinton Campaign
  • Chapter 7: A Maltese Professor, an Australian Diplomat, and a Sap … in London
  • Chapter 8: The Brennan Clearinghouse
  • Chapter 9: Narrative as ‘Intelligence’ as Disinformation:The Steele Dossier
  • Chapter 10: There’s No Collusion Case … Just Ask Julian Assange
  • Chapter 11: Crossfire Hurricane
  • Chapter 12: I Spy
  • Chapter 13: Amateur Hour
  • Chapter 14: Insurance Policy
  • Chapter 15: FISA Warrants: Targeting Trump, Not Page
  • Chapter 16: ‘Flood Is Coming’
  • Chapter 17: Not a Suspect?
  • Chapter 18: Nine Days in May
  • Notes
  • Index

Introduction:

Chapter 1:

Chapter 2:

Comey Wins – The United Spot – Meme War 2.0 – 2019-08-29. #DeepState #ObamaGate #SpyGate #ClintonBodyCount

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Ball of Collusion – The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency by Andrew C. McCarthy

“The real collusion in the 2016 election was not between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. It was between the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration.

The media–Democrat “collusion narrative,” which paints Donald Trump as cat’s paw of Russia, is a studiously crafted illusion.

Despite Clinton’s commanding lead in the polls, hyper-partisan intelligence officials decided they needed an “insurance policy” against a Trump presidency. Thus was born the collusion narrative, built on an anonymously sourced “dossier,” secretly underwritten by the Clinton campaign and compiled by a former British spy. Though acknowledged to be “salacious and unverified” at the FBI’s highest level, the dossier was used to build a counterintelligence investigation against Trump’s campaign.

Miraculously, Trump won anyway. But his political opponents refused to accept the voters’ decision. Their collusion narrative was now peddled relentlessly by political operatives, intelligence agents, Justice Department officials, and media ideologues—the vanguard of the “Trump Resistance.” Through secret surveillance, high-level intelligence leaking, and tireless news coverage, the public was led to believe that Trump conspired with Russia to steal the election.

Not one to sit passively through an onslaught, President Trump fought back in his tumultuous way. Matters came to a head when he fired his FBI director, who had given explosive House testimony suggesting the president was a criminal suspect, despite privately assuring Trump otherwise. The resulting firestorm of partisan protest cowed the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel, whose seemingly limitless investigation bedeviled the administration for two years.

Yet as months passed, concrete evidence of collusion failed to materialize. Was the collusion narrative an elaborate fraud? And if so, choreographed by whom? Against media–Democrat caterwauling, a doughty group of lawmakers forced a shift in the spotlight from Trump to his investigators and accusers. This has exposed the depth of politicization within American law-enforcement and intelligence agencies. It is now clear that the institutions on which our nation depends for objective policing and clear-eyed analysis injected themselves scandalously into the divisive politics of the 2016 election.

They failed to forge a new Clinton administration. Will they succeed in bringing down President Trump?”

Return to Bibliography or See also ObamaGate, SpyGate, Russian Collusion Hoax, Ball of Collusion Table of Contents

Who Was Worse Toward the Press – Trump or Obama?

“When Jim Acosta’s press pass was temporarily suspended by the White House, it ignited a firestorm of criticism and revived charges that President Donald Trump is at war with the media. Those in the media may want to remind themselves who exactly started that war.

While Trump’s rhetoric toward the media has often been hostile, Trump hasn’t interfered with journalists’ actual work one iota relative to Obama.

The month before Trump took office, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Risen wrote in the New York Times that “if Donald J. Trump decides as president to throw a whistle-blower in jail for trying to talk to a reporter, or gets the FBI to spy on a journalist, he will have one man to thank for bequeathing him such expansive power: Barack Obama.”1

Risen would know—he fought efforts from the Department of Justice under both Obama and George W. Bush to compel him to identify sources from a 2006 book of his.

“The Most Transparent Administration in History”

The self-described “most transparent” administration in history was objectively the least.2

According to a report published during Obama’s last year in office, his administration set a record for rejections of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The Obama administration either censored materials or rejected requests outright for access in a record 596,095 cases (77 percent of the time).3 In just his last year in office alone, the Obama administration spent $36.2 million in legal fees fighting FOIA related lawsuits.

Prosecuting Journalists

Obama prosecuted more journalists under the Espionage Act than all other presidents combined. While many certainly deserved it (such as the artist formally known as Bradley Manning), are we to believe there were more acts of espionage from 2009 to 2016 than the rest of American history since the act was passed?

In total, thirteen people have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act for sharing classified information with journalists since 1945. Of those thirteen, eight were arrested while Obama was president.4 Only one person has been prosecuted under the Espionage Act during Trump’s presidency (a woman bizarrely named Reality Winner), which is entirely justified for the same reasons that Manning’s charges were justified.

As Cleve R. Wootson Jr. puts it, “Trump rages about leakers. Obama quietly prosecuted them.”5

Obama Would’ve Expelled Fox News If He Could’ve

Trump seemingly only wants a single person from the press pool expelled—Jim Acosta of CNN. Obama wanted all of Fox News gone.6 As recently as September 2018, Obama said with a straight face that “it shouldn’t be Democratic or Republican to say that we don’t threaten the freedom of the press because they say things or publish stories we don’t like. I complained plenty about Fox News, but you never heard me threaten to shut them down or call them enemies of the people.”7

Obama may have not branded Fox News “enemies of the people,” but he certainly treated them as if they were.

In 2009, Obama’s White House intentionally excluded Chris Wallace from a round of interviews related to Obama’s push for health care reform.

Later in the year, the administration attempted to block Fox reporters from interviewing pay czar Kenneth Feinberg and then lied about it. An internal White House email dated October 22, 2009, proves that the White House director of broadcast media told Treasury officials “we’d prefer if you skip Fox please.”

Obama’s communications director Anita Dunn publicly echoed the same sentiments at the time. “We’re going to treat them [Fox News] the way we would treat an opponent. As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”8

In 2012 Fox was excluded from a White House conference call related to the then recent attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans. Fox was also excluded from the CIA’s briefing about the attack.

To again reference the Espionage Act, in 2012 Fox News’s James Rosen (not to be confused with the aforementioned James Risen) was labeled a “criminal co-conspirator” under the Espionage Act because he used a State Department contractor as a source for a story. At least five of Rosen’s phone lines were seized, and the FBI obtained a warrant to search his emails. The phone records of Rosen’s parents were also seized.9

What’s the Trumpian comparison? Calling people he doesn’t like “fake news” and hurting Jim Acosta’s feelings?”

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Debunk This! – Shattering Liberal Lies by Matt Palumbo

Debunk This! – Shattering Liberal Lies by Matt Palumbo (Author), Dan Bongino (Foreword)

The biggest liberal myths of the modern age are exposed and debunked.

Countless studies have proven that over 90 percent of Trump-related news coverage is negative, and the percentage of journalists that identify as Republicans are in the single digits. When liberals are running the show, you can bet that their narrative has gone unchallenged. If you tell a lie long enough people will begin to believe it, and that’s certainly the case with so many liberal myths that have become accepted as conventional wisdom.

In this book you’ll learn, among many other facts:

What happened to non-gun mass killings when Australia enacted strict gun control.
The truth about “Scandinavian socialism.”
How Obama twisted the numbers to appear tough on immigration.
Why Mexico has stricter immigration laws than the US.
How Bill Clinton faked the “Clinton surplus.”
That the US doesn’t have the majority of the world’s mass shootings.
Why statistics claiming that illegal aliens commit fewer crimes than the general public are bogus.
The countless lies the media simply made up about the Trump administration.

If you’re in need of ammunition to shoot down liberal lies, this is the book for you.

  • Author: Matt Palumbo – https://www.amazon.com/Matt-Palumbo/e/B00DXY5YMO
  • Publisher: Post Hill Press
  • Publication Date: August 20, 2019
  • ASIN: B07T4477C5
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  • Trump suggests on 9/11/2001 bombs were used in WTC

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Who Was Tougher on Russia – Trump or Obama?

“Actions speak louder than media rhetoric, and that couldn’t be truer when it comes to President Donald Trump’s supposed romance with the Kremlin. It is amusing to note how randomly the left seems to create new villains, when as recently as the 2012 presidential election, showing any concern over Russia’s global influence was laughable to Democrats.

A personal favorite example came from October 2012 when the Democratic Party’s official Twitter account tweeted that “Romney, who calls Russia our ‘No.1 geopolitical foe,’ doesn’t seem to realize it’s the 21st century.”1 That came after a debate in which Obama said in response to Romney’s criticisms of Russia that “the 1980s called” and they “want their foreign policy back.”

Suddenly, not only are the Russians public enemy number one, they’ve supposedly been in cahoots with a Republican presidential candidate and now president. Vladimir Putin did admit that he preferred Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election at the Helsinki Summit (leading some clueless liberals to cite this as “proof” of collusion), but those same liberals didn’t notice (or care) that Putin also said he preferred Obama over Romney in 2012.2

It’s not hard to see why. As the left-leaning Brookings Institution reminds us:3

· Obama turned a blind eye to Russia’s war with Georgia in 2008.

· In 2009 Obama axed missile defense plans for Poland and the Czech Republic, which Russia interpreted as America retreating from the European continent. Russia then became more interventionist in Europe.

· Obama didn’t utter a peep as Russia annexed Crimea and invaded eastern Ukraine in 2014.

· Obama ignored calls from Congress, foreign policy experts, and members of his own cabinet to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine.

Obama has also been criticized by his fellow Democrats for not doing enough in response to the alleged Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee (which they later claimed didn’t occur) or the alleged Russian hacking of Hillary Clinton’s private email server (which we now know was done by the Chinese).

Perhaps Obama’s biggest blunder with Russia was the failure of his attempted “Russia reset” in 2009, which began with Hillary Clinton literally traveling to Russia with a “reset button” that vaguely resembled one of those “Easy” buttons you’d see in a Staples commercial.4 The word “reset” was misspelled on the button, and things only went downhill from there. US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul was the architect of the reset plan—and encouraged future administrations to not pursue the same policies that the Obama administration did.5 Bill Clinton also deemed the attempted “reset” a failure.6 US-Russia relations soon deteriorated following the attempted reset.

Unlike Obama, Trump hasn’t been weak on Russia. Trump has said he’s the “toughest on Russia,” and while he’s no stranger to hyperbole, there’s no question that he was tougher than at least his predecessor.

Although Trump isn’t shy to heap praise on Putin, you wouldn’t think the two had a cozy relationship if you were to judge Trump only by the actions he’s taken toward Russia as president.

· Trump did approve the sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine in December 2017.7

· On the annexation of Crimea, Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated, “We do not recognize Russia’s attempt to annex Crimea. We agree to disagree with Russia on that front. And our Crimea sanctions against Russia will remain in place until Russia returns the peninsula to the Ukraine.”8

· Trump has ordered missiles to be fired at Syrian military sites (after President Bashar al-Assad was accused of using chemical weapons on his own people), which have a strategic alliance with Russia. In response, Putin accused the US of “making the already catastrophic humanitarian situation in Syria even worse and bringing suffering to civilians with its strikes.”9

· In August 2017, Trump signed into law CAATSA, the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,” which imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. In the words of the geopolitical intelligence publisher Stratfor, “CAATSA demonstrates that the United States is more strident than ever in pushing other countries to reduce their defense and energy ties with Russia.”10

· In March, following the poisoning of former KGB agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter (a crime believed to be committed by the Russian government), Trump expelled sixty Russian diplomats.

· In April, Trump imposed more sanctions on Russia following the indictments of thirteen Russians for “malicious cyber activities” earlier in March. Russia’s stock market dropped 11 percent on the news. Shares of the Russian aluminum giant Rusal (which is the world’s second-largest aluminum company) cratered 40 percent on the news.11

And what’s the evidence that Trump has been weak on Russia? Trump saying some nice things about Putin and vice versa?

The two are respectful to one another despite politics—not because of them.”

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