In his eagerness to pursue better relations with Russian President Putin—for example, by casting doubt on his own intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the United States election to help President Trump win—Trump has given more ammunition to those in government who seek to constrain him, argues Alina Polyakova. This piece originally appeared in The Atlantic.
Trump tried to walk back his disparagement of the U.S. intelligence community, but his confusing statement (“I meant to say wouldn’t, not would”) is unlikely to convince his critics. That’s because Trump, even before he was president, has been very consistent in his positive view of Putin and desire to “get along” with Russia. Contrary to his stated desires, however, his administration (with pressure from Congress) has pursued an assertive deterrence policy on Russia. The gap between the president’s pro-Russian rhetoric and his administration’s hawkish policies has grown over the course of Trump’s term, and is now poised to grow further still.