This past Sunday, the media was thrown a bit off guard by President Trump’s out-of-the-blue bellicose rhetoric towards Russia in the wake of the Syrian regime’s alleged chemical attack in the city of Douma. Speaking on CBS, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley assured viewers that they “will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down.”
But just two days later, Haley was thrown under the bus by the White House. As numerous news outlets reported, Trump blocked his own administration’s plan for sanctions. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that the administration was merely “considering additional sanctions on Russia” and that “a decision will be made in the near future.”
Making things even more awkward was National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow seemingly putting the blame on Haley’s shoulders, saying she got ahead of herself.
“She’s done a great job. She’s been a great ambassador, but there might have been some momentary confusion about that,” he said. “But if you talk to [US Treasury Secretary] Steve Mnuchin … he will tell you the same thing. They’re in charge of this.”
Haley didn’t take kindly to Kudlow’s characterization. In a statement read on Fox News, she said: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”
Haley’s pointed remarks prompted Kudlow to clarify that he was “wrong to say that — totally wrong.” But regardless, the chaotic message seemed to indicate that Trump was back to showing his bizarre deference to Russia and was nowhere near taking a hardline approach.
And then there’s this: During an interview with Rachel Maddow Tuesday night, Washington Post reporter and MSNBC contributor Carol Leonnig said that amidst the fiasco, the U.S. was communicating with Russia through a backchannel, assuring them that the threat of sanctions was nothing to worry about.
The Russian government was given a backdoor assurance on Sunday that no more sanctions were coming and to just ignore Nikki Haley. pic.twitter.com/bC8JeSbehg
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) April 18, 2018
In the segment, Maddow asked what the nature of the behind-the-scenes communication was.
According to Leonnig, a Wapo reporter in Moscow “confirmed that the Russians were given a backdoor assurance from the White House on Sunday after Nikki Haley’s remarks.”
“We don’t know exactly the hour,” Leonnig continued. “But they were given an assurance that no more sanctions would be coming and to just ignore what the UN Ambassador had said on television.”
Watch the full segment below, via MSNBC:
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