In his memoir, Never Give an Inch, Mike Pompeo attributes Donald Trump’s softness on Russia to a personal response to the Russia investigation, that the ongoing investigation “made it difficult to present real data and sound analysis to the president about the need to thwart Putin’s continued aggression.” Pompeo goes on to say:
The president had come to believe that the intelligence community was trying to screw him on all things Russia. Nevertheless, I knew the Russia-related intelligence pieces I was presenting him were not politically motivated fabrications but real reporting on Russian schemes. Putin was building up his mercenary armies in the Middle East and Africa to wreak havoc wherever he wanted but with plausible deniability for the Russian government. In a well-documented and ghastly incident in March 2018, British intelligence determined Russia tried to murder a former Russian agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter with a nerve agent in the United Kingdom. My recommendations to President Trump on how to punch back went down about as smoothly as a double shot of Stolichnaya. It led to his constant refrain: “Russia, Russia, Russia . . . You guys are always worried about Russia.”
Maybe that’s all there was to it. Or could Trump have held an ideological affection for Putin? I’m not worried about Russia, but I’m not a national security conservative. I wonder about hawks that are Russian doves.
Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there.