For the past two years, President Donald Trump’s opponents have pinned their impeachment hopes on the allegations that Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government to “steal” the 2016 election victory away from the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging collusion investigation, along with incessant media coverage, has yet to produce any evidence to support those claims. But the accusations have nevertheless succeeded in damaging U.S.-Russian relations, suggested White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.
“The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is hopefully now nearing an end, is doing very well. Unfortunately, it probably does undermine our relationship with Russia,” Sanders said in a statement Friday.
“However, the reason for our canceled meeting is Ukraine,” she added. “Hopefully, that will be resolved soon so that productive conversations can begin.”
Meeting with Putin cancelled
Sander’s statement came after it was announced that a scheduled meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, had been cancelled following Russia’s aggressive actions toward Ukraine.
Sanders essentially blamed the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation into alleged Russian collusion and interference in the 2016 election — not to mention the media’s adoring attentiveness to each and every new development — for undermining U.S.-Russian relations.
Russia vs. Ukraine
The cancellation of the scheduled Trump/Putin meeting at the G-20 was precipitated by the actions of Russian naval vessels earlier in the week. Russian ships reportedly fired upon and seized three Ukrainian vessels in the waters off the coast of Crimea.
Crimea is a disputed territory, formerly claimed by Ukraine, that was annexed by Russia several years ago. Both Russia and Ukraine have since been engaged in a sort of low-level conflict in the eastern region of Ukraine as Russia has attempted to foment an insurrection among Russian-speaking Ukrainians and annex additional parts of that nation as their own as well.
President Trump himself had cited Russia’s aggressive behavior toward Ukraine as a reason to cancel the meeting with Russia’s president. In a pair of tweets posted shortly after Air Force One lifted off for the trip south to Argentina, Trump said, “Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting……in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin. I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!”
The president has also repeatedly made it clear from the beginning that he views Mueller’s Russia probe as a sham and “witch hunt” that has hampered his ability to govern the nation, particularly when it comes to foreign policy matters involving Russia.
The investigation into alleged Russian collusion and interference has been ongoing for nearly two years. Yet in all that time, despite the best efforts of Mueller’s team and a salivating media anxious for anything that will “get” Trump, nothing significant to that end has been revealed.
Meanwhile, the incessant focus on Russia and Trump is driving a wedge between the two nations and has prevented Trump from utilizing a full range of diplomatic measures to improve U.S.-Russian relations, largely because the media and his critics are constantly looking over his shoulder and biting at his heels at every step.