August 20, 2017 No.

Russian Media Outlet 'How Donald Trump Has Become A Problem for Russia'

RBC Daily published an article by Pavel Demidov, an expert on American politics, on the current state of Russia-U.S. relations. In his op-ed, titled "Sanctions and Power: How Donald Trump Has Become A Problem For Russia,[1]" Demidov maintains that the U.S. President's inability to find a common language with the Congress makes his possibly favorable policy inclinations for Moscow moot, Trump has become a useless partner for Moscow.

Pavel Demidov
Pavel Demidov (

'The White House's Intention To Build Relations With Moscow Has Become Its Achilles' Heel'

"When signing the law that consolidates sanctions already introduced against Russia and the Russians, hints at the possibility of new sanctions and renders their reconsideration more difficult, President Trump took pains to emphasize that he was forced to do so.[2] This is understandable: with a record low rating and no significant achievements during the first six months of his presidency, it was absolutely impossible for him to bargain with a unanimous Congress in the context of anti-Russian sentiments in the establishment and the mass media.

"Trump, however, was not limited in expressing his opinion about the bill. He said that he considered it unconstitutional, and a number of experts agree with him. According to the U.S. constitution, foreign policy is, on the whole, the President's prerogative, and in a different situation, the White House lawyers would already be preparing documents for debates concerning the constitutionality of the law adopted by the Congress.

"But now, the power balance is quite different. The Congress, in fact, voted non-confidence in Trump in the conduct of foreign policy, especially concerning Russia. This was due to three reasons. First, an extremely low level of support for Trump's Russian policies [is displayed] by U.S. citizens. According to a Gallup poll in June, only 30% of the population approve the President's actions concerning Russia, while 66% disapprove them. The White House's to build relations with Moscow has become its Achilles' heel, and practically all American politicians, regardless of their party affiliation, are eager to seize the opportunity to put an arrow through it.

"Secondly, the personal factor in the confrontation between the Congressmen and Trump has begun to exert a role. The President, from the very outset , decided not to build personal relations with the Congress and the elite of the party. He entrusted this task to Vice President Mike Pence and the White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. As for Trump himself, he simply tried to make lawmakers bow to his will. It was especially clear in spring, when he, in fact, delivered an ultimatum to those in his party who were averse to supporting the Obamacare repeal bill, - and lost. In January-March, many Congressmen were in fear of the President and his support groups. Today, his behavior has become the norm, and people on the Capitol have seen that he is not so scary. Trump's intimidations don't work anymore, and he has not mastered (and will hardly master) any other political mechanisms. Recent replacement of the White House chief of staff has shown that the President does not see any need to build relations with his party and the Congress, but then it is unclear how he is planning to get his way.

"Thirdly, it is the President's increasing political weakness that allows others to dictate conditions to him. Six months after the election, both Trump's 'honeymoon' and Congress's state of stupor and docility have come to an end. The current administration's inability to implement any reforms, including the positive changes that the business sector was hoping for, is becoming obvious. Health insurance reform is becoming less and less ambitious, but no more 'passable' in the Senate for all that. Getting started on a tax reform is also impossible without some serious progress in the health insurance sphere. For the House of Representatives, which is re-elected every two years in the U.S., fall is already a start of the new campaign, and not all Republicans can afford to play on Trump's side during it.

'A [U.S.] Politician Finds It Easier To Blame Russia For America's Misfortunes'

"When it is impossible to show the voters any real achievements, lawmakers, for all intents and purposes, act just like Trump –and follow trendy mass beliefs. U.S. problems are externalized; a politician finds it easier to blame Russia for America's misfortunes than to sort out the problems and troubles of his own district. A health insurance bill cannot pass? Let's add more sanctions against Russia. In fact, the congressional agenda for the next year may well be the task of 'punishing Trump and Putin': it is popular and costs nothing. The pragmatism of the electoral cycle and of the current political process easily triumphs over foreign policy pragmatism.

"A year ago, I wrote about Russia's need for a balanced and competent negotiator in the White House. Of course I meant a president, who can inter alia formulate his interests, stick to them and defend them in his domestic policy. Trump, who cannot find a common language with his Congress and voters, may be a pleasant negotiator for Russia, but completely irrelevant. In this respect, his remarks during the signing of the law on sanctions can only display his inability to change the situation. If previously, the Russian issue was poisonous for Trump's administration, now he himself has becomes toxic for Russian-American relations. Whatever his intentions, he can only make these relations worse."



[1], August 7, 2017.