Trump on Putin (again)

During an interview Sunday during Fox’s Super Bowl pre-game lead in, President Trump was asked about relations with Russia and Vladimir Putin. When asked he said that he respected Russian President Putin. When pressed on that, and the interviewer saying that Putin and killed lots of his own people, Trump said “There are a lot of killers” and equated Putin’s killing of political opponents to the US and the war in Iraq.

Let’s be a naïve and hope that President Trump couldn’t think of an answer quickly and, knowing his ego will not allow him to admit he was wrong, he said that and didn’t mean it exactly how it came out. What he could have said is “I don’t agree with the Russian system of government but Russia is one of the world’s major powers and we have to deal with them. Vladimir Putin is the leader of Russia so I will treat him with the same respect that I will expect from him but will oppose him in areas where Russia violates international norms.”

But the statement that Trump made is stupid, careless and false. It is every bit as much so as those who compare US actions to those of terrorists.   Even several Republican lawmakers have come out and publicly expressed concern and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has said that he will fight any lifting of sanctions on Russia in the Senate should that become an issue.  And today, there is news that a bipartisan group of senators is preparing legislation that would require Congress to approve any lifting of sanctions.

A couple of weeks ago, President Trump had a long conversation with the President of Mexico where, reportedly, they did not agree on much except that President Trump agreed to stop talking publicly about building the border wall because, whether the wall is built or not, it just inflames passions.   President Trump could take a lesson from that conversation. Whether talking about NATO, or the Middle East or Russia, his biggest problem in foreign affairs in his short time as President-elect and President is his own big mouth.  Leave it to your staff, Mr. President.

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