Politics

Not ‘Much Daylight’ Between Trump and Obama on Russia, Actually

Former president's 2009 and 2012 remarks 'sound like' his successor's today when it comes to maintaining a working relationship

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore

There really isn’t “much daylight between” President Donald Trump’s advocacy for better U.S.-Russia relations and the rhetoric former President Barack Obama often used during his Oval Office tenure, Fox News host Laura Ingraham noted Tuesday night on “The Ingraham Angle.”

“What’s interesting is to hear that old Obama from 2009 about the need to reset, his comments to [2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt] Romney … that sounds like Trump. That’s really what Donald Trump, I think, thinks,” Ingraham said. “The core of what [Obama] said there in 2009? I don’t think there’s much daylight between that core idea and what Trump is trying to do.”

Ingraham pointed to comments Obama made during his first visit to Moscow as president in 2009. Obama insisted then that “America wants a strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia,” noting that “Americans and Russians share common interests that form a basis for cooperation.”

“That is why I have called for a ‘reset’ in relations between the United States and Russia. This must be more than a fresh start between the Kremlin and the White House, though that is important,” Obama added at the time. “It must be a sustained effort among the American and Russian people to identify mutual interests, and to expand dialogue and cooperation that can pave the way to progress.”

Ingraham also highlighted Obama’s mockery of Romney’s warnings against Russia in 2012 during one of the presidential debates. Obama told Romney, “When you were asked, ‘What’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America?’ you said, ‘Russia.’ Not al-Qaida; you said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

Although Trump and Obama “are posited as these polar opposites on a lot of issues,” the two men “actually sound a lot more alike than they do different” when it comes to dealing with Russia, liberal journalist Glenn Greenwald told Ingraham. Greenwald is a co-founder of The Intercept.

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“And it is true that Obama repeatedly refused to do things that Trump did, like send lethal arms to Ukraine, like bomb forces [of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] — because Obama didn’t want to provoke tensions with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin because he thought it would be better for both countries to get along, which is very similar to what Donald Trump is saying,” Greenwald insisted.

Ingraham noted that Trump is “really, really frustrated” that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russian interests “calls all of his efforts into question.”

“That spilled over, I think, into Helsinki,” Ingraham said.

Trump was slammed by Democrats and Republicans alike after his controversial press conference Monday with Putin in Helsinki, Finland. Trump said he holds “both countries responsible” for Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because “we’re all to blame.” The president also said that while he has “great confidence in my intelligence people,” he believed Putin “was extremely strong and powerful in his denial.”

Trump clarified his remarks on Tuesday after facing intense bipartisan backlash.

“I have full faith and support for America’s great intelligence agencies — always have,” Trump told reporters Tuesday before a meeting with lawmakers at the White House.

“And I have felt very strongly that while Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying that — and I’ve said this many times — I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump continued, emphasizing that “there was no collusion — at all.”

Related: Trump Clarifies Controversial Helsinki Remarks on Putin’s Meddling Denial

“I entered the meeting with the firm conviction that diplomacy and engagement is better than hostility and conflict,” Trump insisted.

Before that clarification, Obama spoke in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Tuesday.

“Look around — strongman politics are ascendant, suddenly, whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained, the form of it, where those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning,” Obama warned.

Ingraham insisted that “Obama’s star turn today was designed to seize on the opening that the globalists feel they have after Helsinki.”

“But as usual, they overreach. And they have this really convenient case of amnesia regarding their own role in the rotten state of affairs with Russia,” Ingraham noted. “Obama did not reset our relationship with Russia, even though he bragged about it all the way through 2012. And Obama consistently underestimated the challenge posed by Putin’s regime.”

Greenwald, who received a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on mass government surveillance, emphasized that Obama “resisted” the “bipartisan pressure” to alienate Russia further “for eight years.”

“Trump has a realistic and a pragmatic view of the post-Cold War era.”

“[Obama] was a believer that Russia was not a threat, that we ought to try and cooperate with them. It’s the Democrats in the post-2016 era, looking for an explanation of how [2016 Democratic presidential nominee] Hillary Clinton lost, who were trying to essentially find a foreign villain to escape accountability and blame for themselves,” Greenwald said. “And it’s a very reckless political game that they’re playing.”

Ingraham said that “the bottom line” is that “the two biggest nuclear powers in the world should have an open and frank line of communication.”

“That’s better for America’s security. And guess what? It’s better for global peace,” she said. “It’s what liberals used to be for — more talk, less war. Trump has a realistic and a pragmatic view of the post-Cold War era.”

(photo credit, article image: Donald Trump, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Gage Skidmore)

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