By, Harry C. Blaney III & John Gall
Donald Trump lobbed critiques at President Obama and Hillary Clinton on Monday over repeated insults creating an antagonistic US-Russia relationship. During this interview, Trump claimed he would possibly meet with Putin as President-Elect to repair the bilateral relationship:
“If I win on Nov. 8 … I could see myself meeting with Putin and meeting with Russia prior to the start of the administration. I think it would be wonderful.”
This would be an unprecedented action by any American political leader, as direct contact between national leaders should be conducted by the current President of the United States. By dealing directly with Trump as President-Elect, he would be undermining the executive power of President Obama during the final days of his second term in office.
On Tuesday, President Obama expressed his concern for Donald Trump’s embrace of the authoritarian leader:
“Mr. Trump’s continued flattery of Mr. Putin and the degree to which he appears to model many of his policies and approaches to politics on Mr. Putin is unprecedented in American politics and is out of step with not just what Democrats think but out of step with what up until the last few months, almost every Republican thought, including some of the ones who are now endorsing Mr. Trump…”
“[Russia] has to be part of the solution on the world stage rather than part of the problem. But their behavior has undermined international norms and international rules in ways that we have to call them out on. And anybody who occupies this office should feel the same way because these are values that we fought for and we protected.”
We have previously discussed Trump’s uncomfortably warm view of Putin, expressed by his encouragement of outside forces hacking the DNC and refusing to credit Clinton campaign cyberattacks to Russia, despite confident official announcements by the US intelligence community. Trump’s employment of advisers with close connections to Putin and his allies and suspicions of potential business ties to Russia also raises concerns that a Trump Presidency would provide Moscow with a foreign policy carte blanche.
This Presidential election has been filled with many shocking firsts, including Republican party support for a candidate who seems unable to criticize an aggressive Russia that violates the sovereignty of other nations, undermines our democratic process, and indiscriminately bombs civilians in Aleppo. It’s hard to imagine the party of Reagan, who declared the Soviet Union an ‘evil empire’ and spurred a dangerous game of atomic chicken through a horrifying nuclear arms race, would throw their endorsement behind a candidate that fondly looks up to a former KGB and current authoritarian Russian strongman.
Imagine if President-Elect Obama met with Dmitry Medvedev in December 2008 to discuss arms reduction plans. The Republican Party would have called Obama an aspiring tyrant and secret Russian apologist, undermining President Bush’s efforts to conclude his foreign policy legacy.
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