President Trump defied advice from White House staff Tuesday when he congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his election victory, according to a report by The Washington Post.
Critics say his decision, along with his failure to personally condemn Russia and Putin for the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy with a nerve agent in England, represents one of many questionable interactions Trump has had with Russia’s president.
National security expert Juliette Kayyem joined Boston Public Radio Wednesday to add her voice to the chorus of disapproval of Trump’s congratulatory call.
“I think it’s consistent of, at the very least, Trump’s capacity to enable Putin to do worse things in the future,” Kayyem said, “including not just the election issues that we’ve been talking about over the last two years, but of course, our greatest ally just suffered an attack by Russia during the last week and a half, when the Russians went after a former Russian spy with a nerve agent."
In addition to Russia’s role in the nerve agent attack, it’s widely known that the Russian government exerted control over its own presidential election. Putin reportedly barred his leading opponent from running, and alleged ballot stuffing at polling stations was caught on camera.
“The takeaway for Russia and Russia’s leadership is that they won’t be contained by any criticism from Trump,” Kayyem said. “Just imagine what our allies are thinking about it — the French, the British and others (who’s our ally anymore is hard to know), but who see this and just see another piece of a not very complicated puzzle anymore.”
Juliette Kayyem is on the faculty at Harvard’s Kennedy School, the CEO of ZEMCAR and a contributor to CNN.