When Russia expelled 755 US diplomats at the beginning of August, Donald Trump had some pretty straight talk for Vladimir Putin.
President Trump said Thursday that he was “very thankful” that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered the expulsion of hundreds of U.S. diplomats from the country in response to sanctions — because the administration needs to cut the State Department’s budget anyway.
Ha ha ha … no, wait. Though Trump surrogates hurried to say that he was kidding, he certainly seemed serious. Otherwise, why is it that Trump still hasn’t so much as nominated anyone for 384 positions, including dozens of ambassadors? Apparently we don’t need so many diplomats when Trump is ready to meet Putin one-on-one without so much as a a single witness, note-taker, or even translator on the US side.
And three weeks later, it seems the US is ready to return the favor for Russia.
The United States is retaliating against Russia by forcing closure of its consulate in San Francisco and scaling back its diplomatic presence in Washington and New York.
The State Department says move is in response to the Kremlin forcing a cut in U.S. diplomatic staff in Moscow. Spokesman Heather Nauert says the move brings the U.S. and Russia into “parity,” with each having three consulates in the other country.
Even Steven. Though no one should expect a thank-you card from diplomats pushed from San Francisco back to Moscow just as summer is coming to a close.
It’s not clear if this move is related to why Lawfare blog writer and famous tick-tick-ticker, Benjamin Wittes, sent this tweet: