A top ranking Trump official installed onto the National Security Council by convicted General Michael Flynn just got caught pushing officials to abandon America’s Eastern European allies in NATO in an obvious quid pro quo to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
One year ago, the Trump Russia dossier outlined a quid pro quo trading stolen Democratic emails for dropping sanctions against Russia, but after inauguration day, NSC official Kevin Harrington pushed an even more significant proposal to alter American foreign policy to please Putin.
Harrington proposed to pull a significant contingent of American troops from our Baltic allies in NATO to “refram[e] our interests within the context of a new relationship with Russia.” The Daily Beast reports:
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Among Harrington’s ideas were a fervent belief that economic sanctions, particularly those on Russia, were ultimately harmful to the United States. Early on in his tenure, Harrington prepared a paper for Flynn fleshing out those ideas into something approaching a grand strategy—and then going further than any gesture toward Russia thus far reported.
Harrington’s former colleague told The Daily Beast that Harrington asked about the prospect of withdrawing or repositioning U.S. forces from the Baltics—nations once part of the Soviet Union and periodically swallowed up by Russia ever since Peter the Great shattered Swedish hegemony in northern Europe in the early 18th century. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania gained NATO accession in 2004 to guarantee their independence, a measure stridently opposed by Vladimir Putin, who saw the transatlantic military alliance not only enlarged but encroached within what Russia considers its sphere of influence.
While the proposal was ultimately not adopted, it is the first known case of senior aides to Donald Trump seeking to reposition U.S. military forces to please Putin—something that smelled, to a colleague, like a return on Russia’s election-time investment in President Trump.
The only other time Kevin Harrington’s activities at the NSC caught public attention was when he continued to push for dropping sanctions against Russia even after General Michael Flynn was fired as National Security Advisor for lying about his back-channel diplomatic efforts during the transition.
Harrington spent a significant amount of time arguing that Russian sanctions weren’t hurting the state, but were rather hurting American businesses, which is actually the opposite of the reality of the situation.
But one firm belief Harrington held was that sanctions don’t work as instruments of policy, and that they were “hurting us, not helping us,” the former official said. His arguments tended toward saying that if the U.S. was looking for a tool to punish Russia, sanctions were a poor one. In the March email, the State Department official explained to Harrington why helping Russia’s oil industry would damage the U.S. energy market, in particular, the shale oil industry.
“We explained, you’ve got it backwards. There’s an oil glut. The reason global oil prices originally collapsed is our shale oil,” the former U.S. official said in an interview, speaking anonymously to describe the interagency conversations with the White House.
Notably, Kevin Harrington lacks any experience in international affairs or in the military. His only qualification to sit on America’s National Security Council, the White House’s top multi-agency policy-making apparatus, is 13 years spent working for major Trump backer and billionaire eBay co-founder Peter Thiel, as his personal hedge fund manager.
The trifecta of Kevin Harrington’s ‘up is down’ approach to foreign affairs, a secretive plan to suck up to Vladimir Putin and Russia combined with literally no relevant experience in the government beyond political connections is precisely the kind of disastrous misuse of power that we’ve come to expect from the Trump Administration after a disastrous first year on the job.