Trump Still Defers to Putin, Even as He Dismisses U.S. Intelligence and the Allies

Not surprisingly, the administration rejects the notion that it has given Mr. Putin free rein. Mr. Trump regularly says no American presi...

Not surprisingly, the administration rejects the notion that it has given Mr. Putin free rein. Mr. Trump regularly says no American president has been tougher on Russia than he has, “maybe tougher than any other president.”

The president’s advisers point out that Mr. Trump’s own Justice Department indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for breaking into the Democratic National Committee and running the social media campaign — though Mr. Trump has questioned Russia’s ability for both. Under authorities given to it by the president, the director of the National Security Agency and commander of United States Cyber Command, General Paul A. Nakasone, briefly paralyzed the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm in St. Petersburg, Russia, during the 2018 midterm elections to send a message. (Mr. Trump later said he was responsible for the action.)

And Mr. Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, declared the United States would never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea — “Crimea is Ukraine,” he said on the sixth anniversary of the unilateral seizure of the territory, not mentioning that Mr. Trump said in an interview with The New York Times in 2016 that he did not understand why the United States was penalizing Russia for events that primarily affected allies far away.

But it is the withdrawal of troops from Germany, and the absence of any response to the intelligence on the bounties offered to the Taliban for killing Americans, that seems to encapsulate the administration’s absence of a strategy.

Mr. Pompeo struggled to offer up a defense on either in Senate testimony on Thursday. He noted that as a newly-minted Army officer during the final days of the Cold War, he himself “fought on the border of East Germany,” leading Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, to note wryly that under Mr. Trump’s orders “your unit is coming back to the United States.”

But Mr. Pompeo’s testimony was more notable for what he failed to say. He provided no strategic rationale for the reduction of 12,000 troops in Germany, including 6,400 returning to the United States. He made the case that they could return to Europe quickly, but never addressed the fundamental issue: that the decision was part of presidential pique that Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was not devoting a big enough portion of the national budget to her nation’s defense — and that reducing the American military presence in German fulfilled one of Mr. Putin’s greatest dreams.

“Germany is supposed to pay for it,” Mr. Trump said of the American presence, as if the forward deployment was not a central part of the United States’ own defense strategy for the past 75 years. “Germany’s not paying for it. We don’t want to be the suckers any more. The United States has been taken advantage of for 25 years, both on trade and on the military. So we’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Trump Still Defers to Putin, Even as He Dismisses U.S. Intelligence and the Allies
Trump Still Defers to Putin, Even as He Dismisses U.S. Intelligence and the Allies
Newsrust - US Top News
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