White House and Russia Were Talking While Nikki Haley Was Kept In The Dark

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya, left, speaks to American Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley before a Security Council meeting on Iran, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)


There has been intense media focus on the White House undercutting Ambassador Nikki Haley after she said on Sunday that new sanctions on Russia were imminent.

On Tuesday, Trump’s new top economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that Haley was “confused” on the matter. The ambassador made it clear that she was in no way “confused” and Kudlow later rightly apologized.

What likely went down here (and Kudlow hinted at this) is that Haley was not brought in on backchannel discussions between Russia and the White House that almost certainly took place Sunday night. The White House has not commented on communicating with the Russians, but the timeline adds up.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reported that a journalist in Russia had revealed the backchannel. She implies that President Trump is yet again acquiescing to Russian demands.

But it’s a piece in Bloomberg that likely clears all this up and makes it far less scandalous than the paranoid MSNBC host would have you think it.


Bloomberg reports:

Russia’s leader wants to give President Donald Trump another chance to make good on pledges to improve ties and avoid escalation, according to four people familiar with the matter. One said the Kremlin has ordered officials to curb their anti-U.S. rhetoric.

Putin’s decision explains why lawmakers Monday suddenly pulled a draft law that would’ve imposed sweeping counter-sanctions on U.S. companies, two of the people said.

Note that line in the second paragraph. “Lawmakers Monday suddenly pulled’… Monday, during the day, it says. Which would be Sunday night in Washington D.C. So, by the looks of it, America and Russia engaged in a quid pro quo and Haley was not informed until after the fact.

This is far less intriguing than a conspiracy, and in no way satisfies the salacious interest in stupid gossip and rumors like an internal battle between Trump administration officials.

Giving something to get something is basic diplomacy. That appears to be the case here, per normal actions of government, and merely the case that there was a failure to communicate that information to Ambassador Haley prior to her comments.


As an extra note, the Bloomberg piece also says Russia does not want war and moreover that it can’t sustain one.

“Putin is ready to make numerous, deep concessions, but he has to appear like he’s not losing,” said Igor Bunin of the Center for Political Technologies, a consultancy whose clients include Kremlin staff. “He understands Russia can’t compete with the West economically and he doesn’t plan to go to war with the West.”

Will relations with Russia improve? Only time will tell. Will the product the American media is selling to its consumers improve? Don’t count on it.


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