Anyone who thought that Trump had experienced a change of heart about Russia or was simply coyly trying to prove he wasn’t in Putin’s pocket when the administration expelled 60 Russian diplomats after the chemical weapons poisoning of two Russians on British soil would be in for a rude awakening after today’s stunning revelation.
According to The Washington Post, after last month’s attack, Trump was convinced to expel 60 Russian diplomats only under the condition that he would be meeting the same expulsion figures as each of our European allies.
“We’ll match their numbers,” Trump instructed, according to a senior administration official. “We’re not taking the lead. We’re matching.”
However, Trump found out the next day that France and Germany each only expelled four Russian officials—that the “60” figure came from every country in the entire European Union combined.
Realizing that the United States would be portrayed as the toughest on Moscow, Trump reportedly flew into a rage. While aides attempted to reassure him that the E.U. and the U.S. were expelling in total equal numbers, Trump screamed, “I don’t care about the total!”
“There were curse words,” the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “a lot of curse words.”
Of course, the incident was largely rendered moot when Trump quietly allowed for the return of 60 Russian diplomats, so long as they weren’t the same diplomats that were expelled.
Per Russian state media, a White House staffer told the Russian government that they could send in replacement diplomats only days later. “The doors are open,” the official said.
The move, among others, underscores Trump’s blatant reticence to be tough on Moscow.
“I think I could have a very good relationship with Russia and with President Putin,” Trump said at a recent news conference. “And if I did, that would be a great thing. And there’s also a possibility that won’t happen. Who knows?”
Of course, many suspect that Trump, for whom loyalty is of utmost importance, is simply repaying Russia for influencing the 2016 election in his favor. Yet if he has learned one thing about “loyalty” thus far in his presidency, it’s that it has only gotten him into trouble.