We may never know for certain what Vladimir Putin’s plan was for Donald Trump in the 2016 race. Was Putin merely propping up the Trump campaign as a wedge for ensuring Hillary Clinton would enter office in a weakened position? Was Putin trying to make sure Trump won, so he could have a useful puppet in the White House? But whatever Putin’s original plan, it’s been blown to smithereens – and he’s about to have no further use for Donald Trump at all.
There are only two useful things Vladimir Putin could have gotten out of a Donald Trump presidency. The first is the destabilization of the United States government, forcing Americans to focus on their own internal problems, to the point that they wouldn’t be able to pay much attention to what Russia might do in places like Ukraine. While Putin succeeded in plunging the U.S. into internal chaos by putting the unstable Trump in power, it’s also backfired by putting more American focus on Russia than ever – and it’ll remain that way for as long as Trump is in office. There’s a reason Putin hasn’t yet invaded mainland Ukraine; he knows the heat is on him. But this isn’t even the trigger point.
Putin’s second and more direct benefit from a Donald Trump presidency was supposed to be the lifting of all U.S. sanctions against Russia, which would have been profoundly profitable for Putin and his oligarchs. But Trump has been such a ham handed disaster from the start, and his Russia scandal has played out so startlingly, he never has managed to get into position where he could successfully lift those sanctions. Now that the Senate has voted 98-to-2 to take away Trump’s ability to lift Russian sanctions, we’re just a veto-proof House vote away from Putin never getting his sanctions lifted under Trump.
In fact, at this point Vladimir Putin probably has better odds of getting those sanctions lifted if someone else is President of the United States who isn’t seen as a Russian puppet. So once the upcoming House vote makes it official that Donald Trump will never be able to lift sanctions on Russia, it’ll force Putin to do some soul searching about whether he wants to keep Trump in place, or whether he wants to drop some kompromat on Trump and take his chances with someone further down the line of succession. If you’re a regular reader, feel free to support Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report