Nikki Haley promises that Russian sanctions are coming, and the Trump administration responds by saying that she was suffering from “momentary confusion”

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Face the Nation this past Sunday that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would soon be announcing sanctions against Russian companies known to have aided in the development of Bashar al-Assad’s chemical warfare capabilities. The Trump administration, she said, would be sending a “strong message” over the next 24 hours. Well, it’s now two full days later, and that message still hasn’t come. What’s more, it likely never will.

Here’s Ambassador Haley on Face the Nation.

According to several sources within the White House, while Trump had approved of these sanctions against Russian companies, he changed his mind at some point on Sunday, after Haley was on Face the Nation. And, on Monday, as White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders was walking back Haley’s promise of decisive action, and telling reporters that Trump and his team were still “considering additional sanctions on Russia,” and that “a decision will be made in the near future”, a Russian Foreign Ministry official informed the press that, sometime after Haley’s comments were made, a representative of the Trump administration had contacted the Russian Embassy in Washington, telling them not to worry, that the sanctions would not be coming. And, then, today, the White House sent out Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, to tell reporters that Haley had been wrong on Sunday, and that Trump had never agreed to issuing sanctions. The Ambassador, Kudlow said, was suffering from “momentary confusion” when she said that Mnuchin would be announcing sanctions. Well, this, as you might imagine, didn’t exactly sit well with Haley, who just responded, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”

So, yet once again, it would seem that our president, after agreeing with members of his foreign relations team to take a stand against Russia, has decided not to follow through. And, what’s more, he’s apparently decided to throw his United Nations Ambassador under the bus rather than personally own up to the fact that he approved sanctions, and then quickly abandoned the idea.

As for why Trump made this dramatic turn on Sunday, I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that it was on this same day that he’d discovered that we’d expelled significantly more Russian diplomats than any of our allies when it became known that Putin had deployed nerve agent on British soil in an attempt to kill a former Russian spy. This, according to reporting in the Washington Post, made Trump “furious”… Here’s an excerpt from that must-read report.

President Trump seemed distracted in March as his aides briefed him at his Mar-a-Lago resort on the administration’s plan to expel 60 Russian diplomats and suspected spies.

The United States, they explained, would be ousting roughly the same number of Russians as its European allies — part of a coordinated move to punish Moscow for the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil.

“We’ll match their 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…

While I suppose it may be possible that the most obvious explanation isn’t the correct one here, it certainly seems as though our president, more than anything else, is motivated by an intense fear that Vladimir Putin may judge his actions as hostile. And, if that’s the case, one has to wonder why… What could it possibly be that Putin has on Trump that would cause him to act in such a way? What would instill such fear in an American president?

For what it’s worth, our President just took to Twitter to reassert that the Russia investigation is “phony,” and that it had nothing to do with why he fired FBI Director James Comey. This, of course, is a lie, at least on one count. As we all know, Donald Trump said very clearly last May to Lester Holt on national television that he fired Comey because he refused to end the Russia investigation. Here’s his exact quote: “In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’”

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  1. Kim
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    When join the Trump administration it is just a matter of time before you are debased, humiliated and professionally ruined. Today it was Nikki Haley’s turnnto experience that truth.

  2. Demetrius
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    It is tempting to feel sorry for some of these Trump Administration officials who are regularly criticized, contradicted, or made to look like utter fools by the President (their boss) … until you remember that they all eagerly signed up for this – and continue hanging on – for power, money, or to further their careers.

  3. Lynne
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    I wonder. Because I know that if I were asked to take on some important job in this administration, I might take it for the good of the country. I mean I might not know what I am doing but I still would be better than anyone else he might likely appoint.

  4. NPR's Tim Mak by proxy
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Republicans close to the White House whisper about the prospect of an alliance between Ms. Haley and Vice President Mike Pence, possibly to run as a ticket in 2020.

  5. Demetrius
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    By 2020, anyone who has been tainted by their association with this “administration” will likely be living in shame and obscurity, not heading a major-party ticket.

    That Haley or Pence (or anyone else) thinks otherwise is just proof of their absolute delusion.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Julia Davis of

    After backing down on the sanctions & using backdoor channels to notify the Russians, Trump is back in favor with the Kremlin. New propaganda directives are in. Russian state TV hosts can’t hold back their laughter in light of this obvious about-face. The audience looks stunned.

  7. Anonymous
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    The Russians, according to TASS (the Russian news agency) were informed there would be no sanctions. The American people, however, were not. (Sanders told us that a decision had yet to be made.)

  8. Anonymous
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    You also failed to mention that, when we evicted those 60 Russians, we told Putin that they could be replaced.

  9. Fox News
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    NEWS ALERT: 11 House Republicans call on AG Sessions to investigate @Comey, @HillaryClinton, and other @TheJusticeDept officials.

  10. wobblie
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    “motivated by an intense fear that Vladimir Putin may judge his actions as hostile. And, if that’s the case, one has to wonder why… ” duh, maybe because they are a nuclear armed country. Do you want them to think we are committed to “regime change” or “co-exsistence”. I do not understand these pro-war Democrats. I think they are suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome.
    If Trump is able to pull off a rapprochement with N. Korea, ( say an end to the War and a peace treaty), are you MM going to be screeching about who LOST Korea?
    Having Russia thinking we are NOT enemies is a good thing.

  11. Kit
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    North Korea has nuclear capabilities as well, and yet he keeps tweeting “Rocket Man”. He has also declared a trade war with China without any fear of a nuclear showdown. Why is Putin the only one he doesn’t dare offend?

  12. Posted April 18, 2018 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    The President, talking about himself in third person today, put this entire controversy to rest by announcing, “There has been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump.”

  13. Posted April 18, 2018 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

  14. Posted April 18, 2018 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    You remember John Miller, right?

  15. Posted April 18, 2018 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and check this out….

  16. wobblie
    Posted April 19, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Kit, It has been one of the basis of US foreign policy since the 50’s to keep China and Russia from forming an alliance. When they do, such as during the Korean War and to a lesser extent the Vietnam War, we lose militarily. Our foreign policy failure since the fall of the Soviet Union has been to demonize Russia and push it towards China. The economic union between Russia, China and Iran is moving forward rapidly.

    China has a more modern and expansive economy than the US. Russia has a more modern and capable military than the US. Together they will out class the US in the “great power game”. Trump clumsily is attempting to put a break on China and Russia getting together. I think it is to little to late. Most recently Putin in essence announced that Russia would be a willing vassal of China.

    We have been at continues war for 16 years. Do you think we are winning?

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