What do you give an autocratic dictator who helped you land a plum job, when you are trying to keep up the slightest sliver of a pretext that you and the dictator don’t have … a relationship? Donald Trump is looking for an answer.
President Donald Trump has asked National Security Council staff to come up with “deliverables” that he can offer to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany next week, The Guardian reported Thursday.
Deliverables. It sounds marginally, but only marginally, better than “thank you gifts.”
It is unclear what those “deliverables” would look like, but they could include an offer to ease sanctions — which the Trump administration has reportedly looked into at least twice since January — or to give back the Russian diplomatic compounds that President Barack Obama ordered evacuated in December.
Those would be the same compounds that Trump was looking at giving back before. The compounds that were expressly taken away from the Russians because of their interference in the election, that both Democratic and Republican senators don’t want Trump to return. The compounds that the Russians have demanded.
But what does Trump get in return? Nothing. Nothing but the sweet satisfaction of showing everyone, once again, that Trump can do what he wants and no one can stop him.
It is unclear what Trump would ask for in return for such concessions, if anything. A former official familiar with the debate inside the White House told The Guardian that the NSC had resisted “offering anything up without anything back in return.”
Rewarding the Russians would seem to be a poke in the eye to everyone involved in the Trump–Russia investigation and … everyone else. But that’s exactly why Trump is pulling out the platinum card. Not his own card, of course. The company card.
A White House official recently told Business Insider that the administration would not lift or alter the existing sanctions until Moscow “fully honors its commitments to resolve the crisis in Ukraine.” But the White House has twice looked into lifting the sanctions since January, including just days after the president’s inauguration.