There is some evidence that the move this week to expel 60 Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in the UK is a shallow gesture. It seems that although we’ve kicked out this group of 60 diplomats, we would welcome a replacement crew of diplomats to take their place.
This first came up on Russian state TV where a spokesperson said the US is limiting the size of the Russian diplomatic mission in the US, as reported by Julia Davis from Russian Media Monitor:
#Russia's state TV: Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, says that 60 expelled Russian "diplomats" can be replaced by 60 others. The U.S. is reportedly not limiting the size of Russian diplomatic mission in the U.S., like Russia is doing to Britain.
60 out 🔁60 back in pic.twitter.com/vseD4IlxKj
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) March 30, 2018
In fact, the Russian state media outlet Vesti quoted the official as saying, “The doors are open.”
Now Russian state media is not the most reliable source, but this scheme was backed up by USA Today reporter Oren Dorell, who asked the State Department if the expulsion actually reduced the number of Russian diplomats in the US:
I asked @StateDept about this, and it's true. Trump's expulsion this week of 60 Russian diplomats does not require the Russia to reduce its staffing levels in the U.S. and vice versa. https://t.co/gQ22BeChH8
— Oren Dorell (@OrenDorell) March 30, 2018
So basically, we just forced the Russian to recycle their set of undercover intelligence agents in diplomatic positions for a fresh set of undercover intelligence agents. No doubt, they have an ample supply to fill these positions.
Not much of a penalty when it has such a large loophole, but of course it allows Trump to say he is taking a tough stance on Russia. Oh, wait, Trump never talks about taking a tough stance on Russia. In fact, he still wants to have better relations with Russia. And he doesn’t want anyone in the White House talking about his Russia policy moves.
Forced to back our allies, Trump reluctantly endorses this spy expulsion scheme, while making it clear that the Russians can come back in through the revolving door, meanwhile telling his aides to keep it quiet, lest we make Putin unhappy. Sounds to me like the actions of a guy who is wrapped around Putin’s finger.
And we know now that Trump is motivated to keep the details of his extra-marital sexual exploits out of the news, by the payoffs to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels. So what could Putin have on Trump? Well, there is that “pee tape” in the Steele Dossier. I wonder how Melania would feel if that ended up on 60 Minutes.