- President Donald Trump and some of his top cabinet aides have battled over the administration’s policy toward President Vladimir Putin and Russia.
- Most recently, Trump and his aides disagreed over how many Russian diplomats in the US should be suspended.
President Donald Trump and some of his top aides have battled over the administration’s stance toward President Vladimir Putin and Russia, according to The Washington Post.
Most recently, the president and his cabinet disagreed over how many Russian diplomats in the US should be suspended. The administration had planned to dismiss 60 Russian diplomats and suspected spies, which would roughly be the same amount as its European allies, to punish Russia for the alleged poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in the UK.
But when it became public that France and Germany were only expelling four Russian diplomats each, Trump reportedly erupted at his aides for dismissing so many more than their allies did.
“We’ll match their numbers,” Trump reportedly told his top aides, according to a senior administration official who spoke to The Post. “We’re not taking the lead. We’re matching.”
The president was furious that his administration was being portrayed as taking the toughest stance on Russia after believing that the US and its allies would take an equal position. Trump’s aides tried to soothe him by telling the president that the total number of European expulsions equaled the US, but that reportedly did not appease Trump’s anger and feeling of being misled.
“There were curse words,” one official told The Post. “A lot of curse words.”
News of Trump’s disagreement with his administration over the number of Russian diplomats to be expelled from the US is not the first time that there has been a cabinet battle over Russia. Members of Trump’s administration have looked to use the expulsions to push a more hawkish stance against Putin and Russia, but Trump reportedly remains unconvinced and has told advisers he favors a more cooperative approach toward the Russian government.
Trump is also said to have told aides not to speak publicly about tough measures against Russia that he approves because he does not want to upset Putin. The US has taken a number of aggressive actions against Russia over the last year, including imposing sanctions and shuttering Russian diplomatic compounds.