Despite President Donald Trump’s increasingly aggressive positioning on Russia in recent months, he has been reluctant or even angry about confronting that country, the Washington Post reported Sunday night.
The Post painted a picture of Trump in a stand-off with top foreign policy advisers on moves seen to be anti-Russian: expelling a large number of Russian diplomats following the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, for example, or allowing the sale of weapons to Ukraine.
“For some reason, when it comes to Russia, he doesn’t hear the praise,” an unnamed senior administration official said, referring to the weapons sales to Ukraine. “Politically speaking, the best thing for him to do is to be tough. . . . On that one issue, he cannot hear the praise.”
The Post described Trump’s rage at discovering, after the fact, that the United States’ expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats following the Skripal poisonings far outnumbered key European allies.
“If you had told me France and Germany were only doing [four], that’s what we would have done,” Trump said, one unnamed official told the Post.
It may have been a simple misunderstanding. Trump had previously instructed aides to “match their numbers,” according to a unnamed senior administration official, presumably referring to individual countries, rather than the European sum.
Still, the President was reportedly furious: “There were curse words,” the unnamed official recalled, “a lot of curse words.”