Trump rejected almost everything Sen. Dan Sullivan said about reacting to Russia
Forget for a moment, if you can, the "woulda, shoulda, coulda" ploy by President Donald Trump about the Russian attack on the U.S. election system. In a desperate act of damage control, he claims he got one word wrong and he believes in the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies.
One of the questions put to Trump at the Fiasco in Finland was this: "Before the meeting with President Putin, you called him an adversary, a rival, and yet you expressed hope that you would be able to bring this relationship to a new level. Did you manage to do this?"
Trump responded "Actually, I called him a competitor. And a good competitor he is. And I think the word "competitor" is a—it's a compliment."
Trump also said that the U.S. relationship with its good competitor improved because he agreed to meet with Putin.
"I think that the United States now has stepped forward, along with Russia. And we're getting together," Trump said.
All of this contradicts the assertions made by Sen. Dan Sullivan about Russia on "Meet the Press."
Sullivan said Sunday that relations with the U.S. cannot be improved unless Putin acts first.
"The agenda should be I think, number one, that we should let Vladimir Putin - the president, and his team should let Vladimir Putin know, 'If you want a better relationship, if you want, for example, sanctions to be lifted, it's going to be up to you.' What do I mean by that? Don't invade your neighbors. And move out of the countries that you've invaded. Don't align yourself with the world's biggest sponsors of state terrorism in terms of Iran. Don't back regimes like Bashar al-Assad. And certainly don't meddle in the elections of democracies like the United States and our allies," Sullivan said.
Sullivan said Russia is "clearly an adversary" and "it's a country we need to take aggressive action towards."
Sullivan said Monday that he disagreed with Trump's remarks. He defended the performance of U.S. intelligence agencies and said Putin is a "mafia regime leader." But Sullivan did not challenge Trump's claim that Russia relations are already improving thanks to Trump.
Trump and Sullivan offered conflicting views of the world.
Either Sullivan wasn't serious on "Meet the Press" or he remains unwilling to take the political risk inherent in any detailed critical response to Trump. I think it is the latter, which damages his credibility on policy pronouncements.