Vox / YouTube Trump and Putin A surreal moment...
Vox / YouTube

What Donald Trump is saying: He’s getting tougher on Russia. What Donald Trump is actually doing: He’s working to destroy a new round of sanctions and keep Vladimir Putin’s international crime syndicate open for business.

If there’s anything that’s been learned over the last three years, it’s that lying comes as naturally to Donald Trump as covering himself in a half-inch of orange goo every morning. And there seems to be no reason he should bother to check himself. After all, Trump has been running around for weeks saying, “Read the transcript,” when the words in that transcript are utterly damning. But his supporters, both at his rallies and in the Senate, have made it clear that what’s in the actual transcript doesn’t matter to them at all. Trump’s statement is enough.

So no matter how often Trump tosses out claims about how “tough” he is being on Russia, it should not be surprising when The Daily Beast reports that Trump is attacking a package of sanctions against Russia. In fact, Trump’s State Department has assembled a 22-page letter that pushes back against every item in the package. In particular, the White House is arguing against regulations on Russian banks and Russian energy companies because watching them would … well, it would make the use of both as massive international pipelines for the movement of stolen wealth more difficult, but the Trump argument is that it would somehow “cripple the international energy market” to place limits on companies controlled by sanctioned Russian oligarchs.

Making it extra head-squeezy is the fact that the author of the sanctions bill Trump is attacking is Lindsey Graham. Graham is one of those so convinced that Trump was out to do no wrong in Ukraine that he doesn’t need to read the evidence. And he’s also one of those so ready to acquit Trump that he has no problem swearing to be an impartial jurist after he’s already declared his intention to vote down impeachment. Odds that Trump demonstrating again just how in the tank for Russia he really is will cause Graham to go beyond momentary concerns? Zero.

But there is someone who is supporting Trump on both the sanctions and the impeachment. As CNN reports, Vladimir Putin backed up Trump on Thursday and said that the impeachment in the House of Representatives was based on “made up reasons.”  Trump supports Putin. Putin supports Trump. It’s like the Golden Rule … in its most cynical form.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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