See Michael Crowley, “Trump’s big Russia reset; With Washington in an uproar over James Comey’s firing amid his Russia probe, the president and his secretary of state welcomed Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to town,” Politico, May 10, 2017 (updated 05:35 PM EDT).
Donald Trump and his family are involved in massive conflicts of interest. Because he hasn’t released his taxes, we don’t know what his ties to Russia have been and are today.
He habitually lies, about matters great and small. Most recently, on May 9, he fired FBI Director James Comey, and put out an explanation of his reasons that asserted he had acted in response to memos from the Department of Justice asking for Comey’s removal. This turned out to be a giant lie, as Trump himself admitted in an interview with Lester Holt of NBC news on May 11.
The real reason it seems, according to Trump’s own words, was that he was unhappy with the investigation into Russian interference in the elections and collusion between his associates and the Russians.
The day after firing Comey, on May 10, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak met Trump at the White House, showing broad smiles in photos released by the Russians. The press was barred from the meetings. Earlier, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Lavrov at the State Department. No press conference was held.
The Influence of Russia Over U.S. Foreign Policy
The influence of Russia over U.S. foreign policy is revealed by the fact that no press conference was held and the neither Tillerson nor Trump voiced public criticism of Putin or Russia following their meetings with the Russians on May 9, 20217.
1. No criticism was made of the Russian invasion and purported annexation of the Crimea in February and March, 2014. Both constitute gross violations of international law and the prohibition of the international use of force embodied in Article 2 paragraph 4 of the United Nations Charter;
2. No criticism was made of Russia’s invasion of the eastern Ukraine provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk with irregulars in the spring and summer of 2014, and by regular forces beginning in August, 2014. The invasion constitutes a grave violation of international law and the U.N. Charter.
3. No criticism was made of Russian responsibility for failure to comply with the terms of the Minsk II Protocol of February 12, 2015, which outlines measures aimed at securing the withdrawal of Russian forces and the restoration of sovereignty over all of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces to the Ukraine. These measures include, significantly, return to the Ukraine of control over the border with Russia.
4. No criticism was made of Russian support for Bashar al-Assad’s government Syria in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and Russia’s direct commission and participation in the commission of those crimes since 2015.
5. No criticism was made of Putin and Russia’s violations of human rights within Russia itself, which include the assassination of leading opponent Boris Nemtsov on February 27, 2015, and the attacks with green liquids and chemicals on Alexei Navalny, currently the leading opposition figure, in Moscow within the last several months. The attacks are particularly ominous given the fact that the half brother of the North Korean Leader, Kim Jong Un, was assassinated by have liquids thrown on him in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, earlier this year.
6. No mention was made of Russia’s intervention in the November, 2016 U.S. elections, while Lavrov’s assertions at the news conference at the Russian Embassy following the meetings that Russia did not intervene in the elections in any way was allowed to go unchallenged by the Trump administration.
Why has Trump avoided criticizing Putin or Russia?
Subordinate U.S. officials have at times expressed views critical of Russia. But Trump has not directly criticized Putin or Russia, although he has often criticized other countires and heads of state. He is, after all, the President, and the ultimate arbiter of U.S. foreign policy.
Often attention is focused narrowly on the question of potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the Russian intervention in the elections.
The real inquiry, however, should be much broader, and seek an explanation for why Trump has been so pro-Putin and pro-Russian since he began his campaign for the presidency in 2016.
What is the explanation?
The only one that has been offered, with substantial supporting evidence, is that he has been compromised by the Russians.
If he has not been compromised, what is the explanation for his pro-Russian attitudes and policies?
Spirit of Publius