Vice President Mike Pence spoke to reporters this week in Tbilisi, Georgia's capital, and said U.S. relations with Russia would improve when officials in Moscow change course on several fronts, including Ukraine, Syria, and North Korea. Pence added that when it comes to new U.S. sanctions on Russia, the Trump administration and lawmakers in Congress are "speaking with a unified voice."
As is often the case, the president and vice president have presented the world with two competing messages. While Pence wants everyone to believe the United States is "speaking with a unified voice," Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to blame Americans in Congress for deteriorating relations with Russia:
"Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can't even give us HCare!"
This comes a day after Trump grudgingly signed new Russian sanctions, approved by overwhelming, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate, into law. The president added a statement, however, that was deeply critical of Congress.
The broader context here is truly extraordinary. Congress approved new sanctions against Russia because the Putin government attacked our election -- but when presented with evidence of this by U.S. intelligence agencies, Trump has been more inclined to believe the Russian president than American intelligence professionals.
Now, with Russia expelling an unprecedented number of people from the U.S. embassy and other consular offices throughout Russia, Trump has literally nothing critical to say about the diplomatic affront from the foreign adversary, but the American president can't stop whining about American lawmakers -- including members of his own party -- targeting Moscow.
Not to put too fine a point on this, but Donald Trump seems vastly more critical of the American government than the Russian government. I wonder why that is.