It’s not that the media’s perceptions about President Trump and his relationship with Russia has been wrong from the start, it’s that he is changing.
At least that’s how The Atlantic magazine framed it.
In “Why is Trump Turning Against Russia Now? The president’s lingering insecurity about his legitimacy might explain his willingness to punish the Kremlin for a poisoning in Britain but did not for meddling in the 2016 election,” David Graham makes the case no single stand has “hobbled Donald Trump’s presidency more than his attitude toward Russia.”
He then lays out the ‘Muh Russia’ case against the president. During the campaign, Graham wrote, Trump “conspicuously praised Vladimir Putin and refused to condemn the 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.”
Trump refuses to acknowledge Russian meddling in the election, is eager to stifle or shut down investigations that touch on it and “has directly or indirectly produced tremendous legal and political peril for Trump,” Graham writes. Polls, he said, show support for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the concern that Trump obstructed justice and worries the president doesn’t take Russia seriously enough.
Only none of this has produced any legal peril for Trump – directly or indirectly.
Also, Trump said in February 2017 the U.S. would not lift sanctions on Russia until it relinquished control of Crimea back to Ukraine. He did call for Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 still missing emails, but that was a crack against the foot-dragging of U.S. Department of Justice officials that continues to this day, and its meaning could not be more clear. The Atlantic has no idea why Papadopoulos or Flynn acted as they did, but speculation on Flynn’s situation is that the hunters may end up as the prey.
But the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats and shuttering of Russia’s Seattle consulate somehow marks a turn, and a “strange” one at that, according to the Atlantic. These actions, the story pointed out, “dwarfed” the steps taken by any of the other 30 countries that dismissed Russian diplomats over the attack in Britain.
Also, the new Russian ambassador is having doors “figuratively slammed in his face” as he tries to settle in, and then there’s the matter of John Bolton.
“Last week, when Trump abruptly pushed out National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in favor of John Bolton, many observers noted that while Bolton fit Trump’s rhetorical style, the two men diverged on some key issues – most notably Russia. But what if that wasn’t a mistake or a tradeoff, and the hire was another piece of Trump’s turn against the Kremlin?”
Why now, the Atlantic asked. Why does the president suddenly turn tough on Russia when he’s been ignoring the story of its interference in our elections? It’s because he sees these stories as challenging the legitimacy of his election, according to the Atlantic.
“It has long been clear that one reason Trump is so peevish about stories of Russian interference in the election is that he feels such stories delegitimize his victory. His willingness to strike back at Russia now, on an unrelated provocation, shows just how much that sensitivity might explain his actions.”
Trump has been consistently tough on the Russians. He has not removed the sanctions against them … indeed he has strengthened them twice. He has made the decision to arm Ukraine. He has had his UN ambassador criticize them repeatedly at the General Assembly.
But, according to the Atlantic, it’s about him being sensitive to criticism that challenges the validity of his election.