President Donald Trump suggested during Thursday’s press conference that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have lost the chance to make an amicable deal with the United States, following several recent acts of Russian aggression that have strained relations between the two countries.
As CBS’s Major Garrett listed off examples of Russia’s militant posturing – a spy vessel off the coast of the United States, a ballistic missile test that violated a bilateral arms treaty, and a Russian jet zipping by a U.S. Navy destroyer – Trump followed each sentence with a simple declaration: “Not good.”
Trump then noted Putin is likely taking advantage of the current political climate in America, which would undoubtedly censure the Trump administration for trying to forge any sort of deal with Moscow perceived as overly generous.
“If I was just brutal on Russia right now, just brutal, people would say – you would say – ‘oh, isn’t that wonderful?’” Trump pointed out. “But I know you well enough. Then you would say, ‘oh, he was too tough, he shouldn’t have done that.’”
“All of those things that you mentioned are very recent because, probably, Putin assumes that he’s not going to be able to make a deal with me because it’s politically not popular for me to make a deal,” he added, referring to Russia’s provocations.
Later, Trump acknowledged that although he would score political points from his opposition for being increasingly strict on Russia, he also warned that a conflict between two nuclear-capable nations could prove catastrophic for the world at large.
“I want to do the right thing for the American people, and to be honest – secondarily – I want to do the right thing for the world,” Trump said. “If Russia and the United States actually got together and got along… that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”
When pressed as to what Trump’s exact response would be to the recent signs of Russian aggression, the president insisted that he would not telegraph his moves to Russia in a way that would make the U.S. vulnerable to getting outmaneuvered.