President Vladimir Putin retaliated against US sanctions against Russia and various Russian oligarchs previously by placing 13 Americans on a “stop list.”
Other officials of the Biden administration on the list include President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki. Putin also included former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Biden’s son Hunter on the list. There were no Republicans on the list.
“It won’t surprise any of you that none of us are planning tourist trips to Russia, none of us have bank accounts that we won’t be able to access, so we will forge ahead,” Psaki said in response to a query about it during the daily press briefing.
Republicans, predictably, had little to say about it. Except for one thing. Donald Trump, the former president, was overjoyed:
“Breaking News: Russia just sanctioned Joe Biden. While that is a terrible thing, in so many ways, perhaps it will now be explained why the Biden family received 3.5 million dollars from the very wealthy former Mayor of Moscow’s wife.”
“During our Presidential Debate, “moderator” Chris Wallace, then of Fox, would not let me ask that question. He said it was inappropriate. Perhaps that’s why Biden has been so “slow on the draw” with Russia. This is a really bad conflict of interest that will, perhaps now, be fully and finally revealed!” Trump stated.
The comment shows a lot of arrogance for someone who had a Trump Tower planned for Moscow during the time he ran for president. Trump was literally the poster child for conflict of interest while he was in the Oval Office.
The ludicrous charge stems from a botched biased inquiry done by Republican Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, which incorrectly listed Hunter Biden as a founder of a corporation that was paid $3.5 million by the late mayor of Moscow’s wife in 2014. Even that pitiful inquiry failed to uncover any proof that the payment to the firm was in any way corrupt. This is a classic Trumpian taunt: “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.” Trump’s use of this petty smear campaign in the midst of Ukraine’s bloodbath is yet another indication of his unfitness for high office.
Trump’s first public remarks on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were vile congratulations to Putin for his “shrewd” “genius” in invading Ukraine and claiming all of that rich land for himself.
Since then, he’s been all over the place. He confirmed that he’s as ignorant as ever in an interview with the Washington Examiner, telling them:
“I’m surprised — I’m surprised. I thought he was negotiating when he sent his troops to the border. I thought he was negotiating. I thought it was a tough way to negotiate but a smart way to negotiate.”
“I figured he was going to make a good deal like everybody else does with the United States and the other people they tend to deal with — you know, like every trade deal. We’ve never made a good trade deal until I came along. And then he went in — and I think he’s changed. I think he’s changed. It’s a very sad thing for the world. He’s very much changed.”
Trump then went on to tell the Examiner what he’s been telling everybody who will listen since he realized he’d made a huge mistake. He claimed that he was strong on Putin by requiring NATO to “pay their dues,” penalizing Russia, and “halting” the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Germany and Russia, all of which are false.
NATO members do not pay dues; instead, they agree to contribute a specific percentage of their GDP to national defense. Some countries increased defense expenditure during Trump’s presidency, but at least some of the justification was based on Trump’s strange fondness for Putin and his threats to leave NATO. Trump did keep certain sanctions against Russia in place from previous administrations, as well as add a few new ones.
But he never adds that Congress, concerned about Trump’s cozy relationship with Putin, enacted a huge sanctions measure targeting Russia’s energy and defense industries on a bipartisan basis. Trump reluctantly signed the sanctions bill, calling it “seriously flawed.” In terms of the pipeline, his claims of “halting” it is vastly exaggerated. That pipeline was a source of concern for the US and others long before Trump was even aware of it. Near the end of Trump’s presidency, he imposed penalties on the pipeline’s builders, forcing one to leave, but the job was completed by a Russian firm. The pipeline was constructed in large part during Trump’s presidency. When Biden took office, they took a different approach, waiving certain penalties while adding others in the hopes of reaching an agreement with Germany on the matter. The invasion of Ukraine completed the job, and the pipeline is now shut down.
Everyone knows Trump is soft on Russia, despite his vows to the contrary. He is exposed when we watch the horrors on our television screens and witness the vast exodus of millions of migrants. And his own party is catching on.
Former Vice President Mike Pence recently declared that “Putin apologists” have no place in the Republican Party at a large meeting of GOP contributors, and then went on a trip to the Polish-Ukraine border to look tough and Commander-in-Chief-like. “Someone called me a Putin apologist,” Trump said in front of the same donors, confirming that he was the one Pence was referring to. He then went on to say that no one has ever been tougher than him, before reciting his best hits and ranting about the 2020 election.
One of the few times Trump has publicly recognized he was incorrect is when he misunderstood the situation and assumed Putin was “negotiating.” According to polls, there is substantial bipartisan support for Ukraine and intense resentment of Putin for his actions. Trump, on the other hand, can’t seem to walk away from their odd “bromance.”