Tags: Donald Trump | Russia | Trump Administration | michael mcfaul | vladimir putin | meeting | weak

McFaul: Trump Would Look 'Weak' If He Meets With Putin

Image: McFaul: Trump Would Look 'Weak' If He Meets With Putin
Former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul (Yuri Kadobnov/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 03 April 2018 03:47 PM

It is not a bad thing President Donald Trump wants to talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but a White House summit meeting would not benefit the national security interests of the United States, and it makes Trump look "weak," former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said Tuesday.

"I want to underscore how incredibly unusual it is that the Kremlin is announcing the summit on our behalf," McFaul told MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "That's pretty unusual on diplomatic materials."

He also said he is not against Trump speaking to Putin, in principle, because there are times "in diplomacy when you have to talk to difficult people that do really bad things," but he questions the purpose of a White House meeting between the two.

"The question is for what purpose?" he said. "What is the purpose of the meeting? What will we do? In government, we used to call it deliverables. Right now, it's not clear to me that there would be any outcome that would benefit national security interests from such a meeting."

It would also be a "terrible mistake" if Putin pushed Trump to agree to let Russia's past acts be "bygones," and urge Trump to "'forget all those horrible things we did intervening in your elections, annexation in Crimea, the war in Syria, let's just move on ... that's why the meeting shouldn't happen right now."

Beyond a photo-op, McFaul also thinks Putin would believe that "no matter what egregious thing I do, everyone is going to forget about it, because Donald Trump wants to have a quote/unquote good relationship with Putin."

Overall, the idea just makes Trump look "very weak," said McFaul.

"I think it makes him look like he doesn't understand diplomacy," said the former ambassador. "It's just not clear to me the agenda of President Trump and his administration would be with Vladimir Putin right now."

Evelyn Farkas, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia, also on Tuesday's program, noted that the last summit that was attempted with Putin was in 2013, but that was called off because Russia refused to hand over NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

"Even then, we realized we didn't have much cooperation going, even though we were trying our darndest," she said. "Now, what's worse is not only do we have no agenda, but as you just pointed out, this is a really bad signal to be sending."

Just a week ago, she noted, the United States was standing up with allies for the United Kingdom against Russia for its attempted assassination of a former Russian spy and his daughter.

"This was number 15 and 16, I think, of the long list of attempted assassinations on the soil of the United Kingdom," she said. "We should be standing together with our allies and not inviting Russia over the next day, you know, to sort of have a drink with us after they've assaulted, attacked our allies and attacked us."

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A White House summit with Russia President Vladimir Putin would not benefit U.S. national security interests, even if it is not a bad thing President Donald Trump wants to talk, former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul says.
michael mcfaul, vladimir putin, meeting, weak, foreign policy
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2018-47-03
Tuesday, 03 April 2018 03:47 PM
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