The Washington Post continues to justify Donald Trump’s absolute loathing of it with another humiliating scoop, this time undermining Trump’s “tough on Russia” narrative. In an uncharacteristically bold move, the Trump administration expelled a massive 60 Russian diplomats (presumed spies) in support of our close ally Britain; far more than any other country. Many saw this as proof that Trump was not really in the pocket of Russia’s dictator Vladimir Putin.
“We’ll match their [America’s EU allies] numbers,” Trump instructed, according to a senior administration official. “We’re not taking the lead. We’re matching.”
The next day, when the expulsions were announced publicly, Trump erupted, officials said. To his shock and dismay, France and Germany were each expelling only four Russian officials — far fewer than the 60 his administration had decided on.
The president, who seemed to believe that other individual countries would largely equal the United States, was furious that his administration was being portrayed in the media as taking by far the toughest stance on Russia.
First, it seems fairly obvious that due to the sheer incompetence of the Trump White House and its inability to communicate clearly even with itself, Trump’s order to “match” the EU’s numbers was taken as “match the total of the entire EU” instead of what the individual countries were doing. That’s sitcom level stupidity and should make your blood curdle to consider how dangerous that kind of chaos would be in an actual crisis. They couldn’t even coordinate simple math; there is little to no chance they could navigate a military standoff without triggering a massacre.
Second, Trump is so deeply in love with the image of himself as a tough, macho leader and so desperate for the media’s approval that it’s quite telling how badly he reacted when the media gave him exactly what he’s always wanted. What should have been a happy accident leading to positive coverage that even managed to put a dent in the “Putin’s Puppet” narrative instead sent Trump into a frothing rage:
His briefers tried to reassure him that the sum total of European expulsions was roughly the same as the U.S. number.
“I don’t care about the total!” the administration official recalled Trump screaming. The official, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
Growing angrier, Trump insisted that his aides had misled him about the magnitude of the expulsions. “There were curse words,” the official said, “a lot of curse words.”
The incident reflects a tension at the core of the Trump administration’s increasingly hard-nosed stance on Russia: The president instinctually opposes many of the punitive measures pushed by his Cabinet that have crippled his ability to forge a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Basically, Trump is being nagged into doing his job defending America’s interests and it’s driving him up a wall. This is not how someone who isn’t a puppet acts and the clearest sign yet that Putin owns the President of the United States. Whether it’s through financial blackmail, the “pee tape”, or just plain old bribery, Donald Trump is compromised and has to go. No president that has to be forced or accidentally tricked into doing what’s right for his nation has any business being in the Oval Office.
Meanwhile, every “tough” action Trump takes against Russia now has to be viewed with the utmost suspicion. Did he order it himself? Did he actually understand what he was doing? Did he misinterpret something he heard on Fox? Did his staff do what he said or what they thought he meant? In normal circumstances, these would be ridiculous questions to ask but this is where we are now as a country.