Trump has long praised Putin
He also declared he was "no puppet" of the Russian president
President Donald Trump’s hopes of striking a grand bargain with Russia are fading, two administration officials confirmed to CNN Thursday.
According to one senior administration official, this isn’t necessarily because Trump’s view of Russian President Vladimir Putin has evolved. But Trump believes in the current atmosphere – with so much media scrutiny and ongoing probes into Trump-Russia ties and election meddling – that it won’t be possible to “make a deal,” as the President himself has framed it, the officials said.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the White House’s skepticism about reaching a speedy detente with Russia.
One of the White House officials said the President was particularly “frustrated” in a meeting in the Oval Office with newly minted national security adviser H.R. McMaster and other top officials in the wake of Russia’s February cruise missile deployment – an apparent treaty violation.
This official said that with each violation from Russia, the President views it as that much harder to make amends. The President is not closing the door on engaging with Russia on a variety of issues – including Syria, Ukraine and combating ISIS – but the administration is not optimistic at the moment.
It’s not uncommon for newly minted presidents to believe they can reset the long-complicated US-Russia relationship. But Trump’s optimistic rhetoric paired with his lack of criticism for Putin diverges from longstanding bipartisan US policy.
Trump during the campaign repeatedly said that the US should work to improve its relationship with Russia to tackle complex problems around the world.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along with people, wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along, as an example, with Russia? I’m all for it and let’s go get ISIS because we have to get ISIS and we have to get them fast,” Trump said during a news conference in Doral, Florida, over the summer.
Democrats charged that Putin, an ex-KGB agent, was manipulating Trump to his own advantage. Trump rejected the notion that he was a Putin puppet, memorably insisting in the third presidential debate he was “no puppet, no puppet.”
Trump also repeatedly defended his pro-Russia stance and contested the portrayal of Putin as an evil actor around the world during the campaign.
That defense continued into his presidency when he was pressed on Fox News about Putin’s human rights abuses and responded: “What, do you think our country’s so innocent?”
He took a similar stance at another Fox News appearance.
“I don’t know Putin, but if we can get along with Russia, that’s a great thing,” he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “It’s good for Russia, it’s good for us.”
On Thursday during a panel in Russia, Putin said he would be open to meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the Arctic Summit. But one administration official said the White House has not confirmed whether Trump will attend the summit.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.