BREAKING NEWS:

Atlanta to mandate face masks to contain coronavirus.

On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
79°
Chance of T-storms
H 86° L 70°
  • cloudy-day
    79°
    Current Conditions
    Chance of T-storms. H 86° L 70°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    86°
    Today
    Chance of T-storms. H 86° L 70°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    88°
    Tomorrow
    Chance of T-storms. H 88° L 72°
Listen
Pause
Error

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

National Govt & Politics
Trump's two Russias confound coherent US policy
Close

Trump's two Russias confound coherent US policy

Trump's two Russias confound coherent US policy
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File
FILE - In this July 16, 2018, file photo Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and U.S. President Donald Trump give a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland. For the past three years, the administration has careered between President Donald Trump's attempts to curry favor and friendship with Vladimir Putin and longstanding deep-seated concerns about Putin's intentions. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Trump's two Russias confound coherent US policy

When it comes to Russia, the Trump administration just can’t seem to make up its mind.

For the past three years, the administration has careered between President Donald Trump's attempts to curry favor and friendship with Vladimir Putin and longstanding deep-seated concerns about Putin's intentions. As Trump has repeatedly and openly cozied up to Putin, his administration has imposed harsh and meaningful sanctions and penalties on Russia.

The dizzying, often contradictory, paths followed by Trump on the one hand and his hawkish but constantly changing cast of national security aides on the other have created confusion in Congress and among allies and enemies alike. To an observer, Russia is at once a mortal enemy and a misunderstood friend in U.S. eyes.

Even before Trump took office questions about Russia abounded. Now, nearing the end of his first term with a difficult reelection ahead, those questions have resurfaced with a vengeance. Intelligence suggesting Russia was encouraging attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan by putting bounties on their heads has thrust the matter into the heart of the 2020 campaign.

The White House says the intelligence wasn't confirmed or brought to Trump's attention, but his vast chorus of critics are skeptical and maintain the president should have been aware.

The reports have alarmed even pro-Trump Republicans who see Russia as a hostile global foe meddling with nefarious intent in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Ukraine and Georgia, a waning former superpower trying to regain its Soviet-era influence by subverting democracy in Europe and the United States with disinformation and election interference.

Trump’s overtures to Putin have unsettled longstanding U.S. allies in Europe, including Britain, France and Germany, which have expressed concern about the U.S. commitment to the NATO alliance, which was forged to counter the Soviet threat, and robust democracy on the continent.

But Trump has defended his perspective on Russia, viewing it as a misunderstood potential friend, a valued World War II ally led by a wily, benevolent authoritarian who actually may share American values, like the importance of patriotism, family and religion.

Trump's approach to Russia was at center stage in the impeachment proceedings, when U.S. officials testified that the president demanded political favors from Ukraine in return for military assistance it needed to combat Russian aggression. But the issue ended up as a largely partisan exercise, with House Democrats voting to impeach Trump and Senate Republicans voting to acquit.

Within the Trump administration, the national security establishment appears torn between pursuing an arguably tough approach to Russia and pleasing the president. Insiders who have raised concern about Trump's approach to Russia — including at least one of his national security advisers, defense secretaries and secretaries of state, but especially lower-level officials who spoke out during impeachment — have nearly all been ousted from their positions.

Suspicions about Trump and Russia go back to his 2016 campaign. His appeal to Moscow to dig up his opponent’s emails, his plaintive suggestions that Russia and the United States should be friends and a series of contacts between his advisers and Russians raised questions of impropriety that led to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. The investigation ultimately did not allege that anyone associated with the campaign illegally conspired with Russia.

Mueller, along with the U.S. intelligence community, did find that Russia interfered with the election, to sow chaos and also help Trump's campaign. But Trump has cast doubt on those findings, most memorably in a 2018 appearance on stage with Putin in Helsinki.

Yet despite Trump's rhetoric, his administration has plowed ahead with some of the most significant actions against Russia by any recent administration.

Dozens of Russian diplomats have been expelled, diplomatic missions closed, arms control treaties the Russians sought to preserve have been abandoned, weapons have been sold to Ukraine despite the impeachment allegations and the administration is engaged in a furious battle to prevent Russia from constructing a new gas pipeline that U.S. lawmakers from both parties believe will increase Europe’s already unhealthy dependence on Russian energy.

At the same time, Trump has compounded the uncertainty by calling for the withdrawal or redeployment of U.S. troops from Germany, angrily deriding NATO allies for not meeting alliance defense spending commitments, and now apparently ignoring dire intelligence warnings that Russia was paying or wanted to pay elements of the Taliban to kill American forces in Afghanistan.

On top of that, even after the intelligence reports on the Afghanistan bounties circulated, he's expressed interest in inviting Putin back into the G-7 group of nations over the objections of the other members.

White House officials and die-hard Trump supporters have shrugged off the obvious inconsistencies, but they have been unable to staunch the swell of criticism and pointed demands for explanations as Russia, which has vexed American leaders for decades, delights in its ability to create chaos.

Read More

News

  • We know staying home has been the main way to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic, but which activities are safe and which are the riskiest? Can you still run to the store, have a barbecue or attend a celebration? Doctors with the Texas Medical Association have developed a chart that ranks the risks involved in various outings. The lowest risk according to the medical professionals is opening the mail. The highest risk -- going to a bar. The group said the rankings were compiled by experts from the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 Task Force and the group’s Committee on Infectious Diseases, with the assumption that people who are participating are wearing a mask. Fourteen doctors were on the committee that made the list, KTVT reported. It was developed to help put the information that was available into one easy-to-understand presentation, KEYE reported. “People will have to decide what risk they think is reasonable for themselves and their families to take in order to live life,” Dr. Erica Swegler, a member of the taskforce, told KEYE. While the chart may be handy to gauge risk, the medical association said the best thing to do is, “stay home if possible, wear a mask and maintain at least 6 feet of distance when they have to go out, and practice safe hand hygiene,” KXAN reported.
  • The Chicago Blackhawks are bucking the trend of considering a name change. The NFL’s Redskins and the MLB’s Indians have both announced that they will consider changing the teams’ names and logos to something more culturally appropriate. But the Blackhawks will not. The name and image of a Native American warrior will be staying but the team’s officials said they will be “raising the bar even higher” to raise awareness of Native American culture. “The Chicago Blackhawks name and logo symbolizes an important and historic person, Black Hawk of Illinois’ Sac & Fox Nation, whose leadership and life has inspired generations of Native Americans, veterans and the public,” the team said in a statement according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Team officials said they have worked with Native American groups “by offering ongoing reverent examples of Native American culture, traditions and contributions, providing a platform for genuine dialogue.” While the team won’t be changing its name, it does not discount the decisions of other professional sports teams to reevaluate their names and logos, The Associated Press reported. “We recognize there is a fine line between respect and disrespect, and we commend other teams for their willingness to engage in that conversation,” the team said. The hockey team honors Native Americans with pregame and intermission events, the Sun-Times reported. But there have been some Native American groups that have said the name and logo continue racist stereotypes. The Blackhawks, known as the Black Hawks, joined the NHL in March 1926 and was named by the owner Frederic McLaughlin after the unit he served with in World War I – the Blackhawk Division of the 86th Infantry, WMAQ reported. The NHL season has been suspended due to coronavirus, but training camps are set to start July 13 with games resuming Aug. 1, the NHL announced Monday.
  • A Texas boy is recovering after he was struck by gunfire twice in two separate drive-by shootings that happened just days apart. According to WOAI-TV, the shootings occurred late Saturday and early Tuesday at the same home on West Viola Avenue in Yakima, authorities said. In the first shooting, an 11-year-old boy suffered a gunshot wound to the leg, Yakima police said in a news release. In the second, the same boy was shot in the leg once, while his 9-year-old sister was shot in the leg twice, according to the release. The children were taken to a nearby hospital and released after receiving treatment, authorities said. In a statement, Yakima police Chief Matt Murray called the incidents 'heart-wrenching and alarming.' “The Police Department’s top priority is the reduction of violent crime – and these incidents are a glaring example of why,” Murray said. “But this is a community issue, and we need the community’s help to solve it and prevent further violence.” Authorities have not announced any arrests in the case. If you have information about the shootings, you can submit a tip anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-248-9980. Read more here or here.
  • Gov. Brian Kemp has asked the federal government to send more resources to expand COVID-19 testing in Gwinnett County and to renew funds needed to keep the National Guard staffing testing sites around the state. Kemp on Tuesday asked for help getting personal protective equipment like masks and gloves for the state’s first responders and essential workers and an extension in funding for the Georgia National Guard, which has been performing COVID-19 testing and sanitizing long-term care homes during the pandemic. In addition to sustaining the ongoing federal coronavirus assistance, Kemp is seeking additional funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to increase Gwinnett’s testing infrastructure, a spokesman said. Gwinnett has seen a surge in positive COVID-19 tests since mid-May, with 9,666 total as of July 6, according to the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Departments. Members of a federal COVID-19 response team visited Gwinnett County last week and are expected to compile a report detailing how spread could be further prevented. That report will be given to local health officials. >>Read MORE on AJC.com.
  • A driver died Wednesday morning after a fiery crash on a major interstate in Gwinnett County.  The wreck, which involved a truck and an SUV, happened about 1:30 a.m. on I-85 at Jimmy Carter Boulevard, according to Gwinnett police spokeswoman Cpl. Michele Pihera.  The truck caught fire after the crash, and the driver had to be freed from the vehicle, she said.  A Gwinnett police officer was injured during the rescue effort, according to Pihera. The officer was checked out at a hospital and released.  One driver died on the way to a hospital, Pihera said. It is not clear which vehicle that person was driving.  No details were released about the second driver’s condition. — Return HERE for updates from The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
  • About a dozen American flags lined up along Highland Avenue in Needham, Massachusetts, were burned Sunday night, according to police. A dozen more flags set on the lawn near the Exchange Club were found destroyed, as well. According to Boston's WFXT, the flags have been replaced, but the ashes are still scattered along the grass. Longtime Needham resident Kate Robey takes it upon herself to display the flags on Highland Avenue during patriotic holidays. “I think everyone appreciates it. I get honks and the waves and the thank-yous,” Robey said. But this Fourth of July, the flags were vandalized. “Dedicated people put those out and to just burn them, nonchalantly, it’s hurtful,” said Robey. Robey has been working with the Needham VFW for years and has displayed these flags in the same parts of town for almost a decade now. She’s left confused and wondering why someone would vandalize her tribute to the men and women serving the country. “As I do the flags, I think of the veterans, fallen brave and the military out there fighting for our freedom now,” Robey said. Robey said about a dozen were burned by Memorial Park and a dozen more burned outside the Needham Exchange Club, where 500 flags were displayed in lieu of a scaled-back Fourth of July celebration. “I don’t mind what you do at your home with your flags, but these flags are my flags, and it’s vandalism,” Robey said. Police said they are investigating the matter.