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June 27 2017 10:18 PM

Today's Impeach-O-Meter: Is the Press an Enemy of the State, and Should We All Be Imprisoned and Fed to Dogs?

In the tradition of the Clintonometer and the Trump Apocalypse Watch, the Impeach-O-Meter is a wildly subjective and speculative daily estimate of the likelihood that Donald Trump leaves office before his term ends, whether by being impeached (and convicted) or by resigning under threat of same.

On Friday, CNN retracted a story it had posted about a Trump supporter and fundraiser named Anthony Scaramucci. On Monday, three journalists involved with the story resigned. Subsequently, the president and his son Donald Jr. (who is friendly with several figures in what we might, a few years ago, have called the white supremacist fringe) sent a total of 18 angry tweets accusing CNN and the rest of the mainstream media of fabricating and promoting fake stories in a sort of collective anti-administration conspiracy. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed those themes at an afternoon press conference before being challenged by a reporter named Brian Karem in an exchange you can watch here.


Presidential administrations in the past, particularly conservative ones, have complained about and scapegoated the media. But there is a difference, I think, between, one hand, suggesting that the media is annoying, biased, and sensationalistic; and, on the other, truly believing that the entire institution of the press is an enemy operation engaged in bad-faith national sabotage. As Gawker's Alex Pareene has pointed out, national politics are increasingly controlled by gullible readers of nationalist/paranoid/extremist blogs and websites, and in their movement the idea of taking pride in free speech (as embodied in the free press) because it's a component of American liberty—even in a chauvinistic way, as in "Americans are the freest people on God's green Earth," etc.—does not seem to exist. The white, anti-cosmopolitan, blue-collar ethnostate of Stephen Miller and Stephen Bannon's fantasies is not the kind of place where you disagree with what someone says but you defend to the death their right to say it.

That doesn't really change Donald Trump's chances of getting impeached, but it does make me hope that, if he does, we can clean this entire toxic ideology out of the national consciousness, and send it back to the sewers, where it can be eaten by rats, and vanish.

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.

June 27 2017 9:15 PM

Former Trump Campaign Chief Manafort Registers as Foreign Agent for Ukraine Lobbying

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort registered as a foreign agent Tuesday for the work his consulting group did on behalf of Ukraine from 2012 to 2014. Manafort becomes the second high-ranking Trump campaign official—along with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who filed for his work with the Turkish government earlier this year—to retroactively register with the Department of Justice under The Foreign Agent Registration Act, which requires U.S. citizens lobbying on behalf of a foreign government to disclose their work.

Manafort’s filing shows his firm earned $17.1 million from 2012 to 2014 for its work for Ukraine’s Party of Regions, the pro-Russia party of then-president Viktor Yanukovych. Other prominent U.S. lobbying groups have also retroactively filed paperwork with the DOJ for their work with Ukraine. Failure to report lobbying work under FARA is a felony, but prosecutions for violations are rare. Instead, those in violation are usually prompted by the DOJ to make disclosures to get on the right side of the law, even if retroactively.


Manafort’s DOJ filing is the latest bit of evidence of the murky financial dealings of Trump’s former campaign chief, who has operated out on the political fringes for years.

June 27 2017 5:41 PM

Chicago Grand Jury Indicts Three Officers for Alleged Cover-Up of Laquan McDonald Shooting

Three of the Chicago police officers on the scene when Jason Van Dyke shot and killed Laquan McDonald in 2014 have been indicted on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and official misconduct. They stand accused of lying on incident reports about the moments leading up to Van Dyke’s use of deadly force against the black 17-year-old.

The indictment, which is written in a way that suggests more officers could still be charged for participating in the cover-up, accuses David March, Joseph Walsh, and Thomas Gaffney of allegedly coordinating with Van Dyke—who has been charged with murder—to provide false accounts of the shooting “in order to shield their fellow officer from criminal investigation and prosecution.”


In a report submitted to the Chicago Police Department, Marsh wrote that McDonald had “committed aggravated assaults against the three officers, finally forcing [Van Dyke], in defense of his life, to shoot and kill” him. In a separate report, Walsh wrote that “when MCDONALD got to within 12 to 15 feet of the officers he swung the knife toward the officers in an aggressive manner.” Gaffney submitted a report that said three officers had been “battered” during the run-up to the shooting.

All of these claims were revealed to be lies upon the release of a dashcam video that showed McDonald’s final moments. The release of the video, which sparked protests and led to the ouster of Chicago’s police superintendent, proved McDonald had not threatened or acted in an aggressive manner toward any of the officers in the moments before Van Dyke shot him 16 times.

In the indictment, the officers are accused of mischaracterizing “the video recordings so that independent criminal investigators would not know the truth about the Laquan McDonald killing and the public would not see the video recordings of the events.” It’s unclear at what point the three officers named in the indictment watched the dashcam footage, and what role their descriptions of it may have played in the city’s decision to keep the video out of public view until a judge ordered its release in November 2015.

The outcry over McDonald’s death in the wake of the video’s release spurred the Obama-era Department of Justice to launch an investigation into policing in Chicago. That effort led to a blistering report that found, among other things, that “a code of silence among Chicago police officers exists, extending to lying and affirmative efforts to conceal evidence.”

The Justice Department’s report was supposed to lead to a court-enforced consent decree that would have mandated a reform agenda. The Trump administration, however, has scuttled plans for that consent decree to take effect.

June 27 2017 4:36 PM

Modi and Trump’s Meeting Went Great, Unless You Are an Indian Worried About H1-B Visas

According to Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first visit between the two leaders was a huge success. "The relationship between India and the United States has never been stronger, never been better," Trump said after their meeting on Monday. Modi tweeted that he was “delighted” to meet Trump and looked forward to welcoming him in India for the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Summit. The two leaders also issued a joint statement shortly after their meeting, affirming their commitment to work together to defeat global terrorism and strengthen trade ties.

Indian media, however, was not too happy with their prime minister, who, according to reports, did not bring up Trump’s possible restrictions on H1-B visas—an issue that before the visit was expected to cause friction.


Prior to Modi’s visit to the U.S., Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj told Indian media that the PM would voice his concerns. “I would like to assure the country that we are in touch with the members of the U.S. Congress and the administration on this matter,” Swaraj said. “When the Prime Minister travels there, this is one of the issues that he is planning to raise.”

Indian media noticed that he didn’t. Livemint, an Indian online magazine, wrote that the issue confronting Indian professionals and outsourcing firms should have been an integral part of the talks on Monday.

With the Trump administration undertaking a review of the H1B visa, the most sought-after by Indian IT professionals, the issue had taken centrestage ahead of Modi’s US visit with the issue expected to figure prominently in bilateral discussions. However, the H1B issue specifically did not figure in the talks, with foreign secretary S. Jaishankar telling reporters that there was a lot of discussion with business leaders and the two leaders about the digital partnership when asked about whether H1B visa issue figured in the talks.
“There is recognition that the Indian-American community has played an extraordinary role in building this relationship. When you value something it is obvious that you will take care of what you value,” Jaishankar said.

The H1-B visa allows American companies to temporarily hire foreign workers in specialized fields like technology, science, and finance. In order to obtain the visa, applicants have to undergo a substantive process and meet high standards of specialized knowledge and education. The U.S. currently grants 85,000 H1-B visas every year and, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the number of applications can be up to three times more than this number.

A 2015 report to Congress from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services noted that Indians were the top beneficiaries of the H1-B policy. According to the report, 220,286 Indians were successful in obtaining the work visa in fiscal year 2014. A list in the New York Times of the 13 global outsourcing companies that won one-third of all H1-B visas granted in 2014 included seven Indian outsourcing firms. Indeed, the country’s outsourcing industry is valued at a staggering $150 billion.

This is expected to take a hit under the Trump administration. In April, Trump signed the “Buy and Hire American” executive order, calling for a multiagency report, including Labor and State, to recommend changes to the H1-B program by November. Ahead of signing the order, the president spoke at a rally of workers in Wisconsin. “Right now, widespread abuse in our immigration system is allowing American workers from all backgrounds to be replaced by workers brought in from other countries to fill the same job, for, sometimes, less pay.” While the report is still underway, McKinsey India reported in May that at least 200,000 software engineers in India will lose their jobs each year over the next three years due to denial of H1-B visas.

“Modi missed a golden opportunity to raise the visa issue despite the Indians in the US making a pressing case for it,” the First Post, another Indian media outlet, wrote after the meeting. “Trump’s policy on foreign workers isn’t anything new. Modi had enough time to work on a prompt way to appropriately pitch this issue during the high-profile meet. But he missed the chance.”

June 27 2017 3:05 PM

Republican Senate Leaders Will Delay Vote on Health Care Bill That Everyone Hates

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing back this week's planned vote on the Republican health care bill, every news outlet on Capitol Hill has simultaneously reported. The Republican Senate caucus is also said to be meeting with Donald Trump at the White House at 4 p.m.

As every publication and individual person who has been following this story also simultaneously noted/realized, GOP House leaders famously canceled a planned health care vote earlier this year before passing a slightly modified version of their bill about a month later. So this does not mean that the Obamacare replacement effort is dead. It does, however, seemingly mean that the objections that many Republican senators raised to their chamber's bill—especially after its CBO score was released Monday—were not just empty posturing. (As Nate Silver notes, a GOP health bill was going to always be more difficult to pass in the Senate than in the House because the party holds a smaller majority in the upper chamber.)


For the bill's opponents, the delay means a chance to exert more pressure on vulnerable Republican moderates, who will (presumably) be returning to their states to march in parades and whatnot over the Fourth of July holiday. On the other hand, as Politico reported, Monday's CBO score also indicated that the bill would be $188 billion cheaper than Republicans had planned for—which in practice means that the party's leaders now have $188 billion to give out to placate wavering members.

June 27 2017 1:58 PM

The Noninsane Person’s Guide to the CNN Scandal the President Spent His Morning Yelling About


Last week, CNN's investigative unit published a piece that asserted that the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Treasury Department were looking into potentially inappropriate activity related to a meeting between Wall Street bigshot/Trump 2016 fundraiser Anthony Scaramucci and an executive at the Russian Direct Investment Fund. Late Friday night, CNN retracted and deleted the story. On Monday, three CNN employees involved with the piece—the reporter who wrote it, the executive editor for investigations, and an assistant managing editor for investigations—resigned. Since then, President Donald Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. have been tweeting nearly nonstop about CNN. For example:










Are the Donalds Trump right? Did CNN finally get caught doing FAKE NEWS for real? Should we be mad at CNN for screwing up and giving Trump the opportunity to bash the media for cause? Let's take a deep breath and figure out what is happening.

What was wrong with the CNN story?

CNN says the piece "did not meet CNN's editorial standards." Politico reports that the piece's publication violated internal rules requiring that stories involving anonymous sources be shown to an executive editor before publication. Politico also says the network's legal team "had not fully reviewed the final piece." (It's common practice in journalism to have lawyers vet stories that involve accusations of criminal or otherwise inappropriate behavior.) BuzzFeed notes that the CNN piece cited only a "single, unnamed source" and says the network is instituting further pre-publication guidelines regarding the handling of stories involving Trump and Russia.

But what was actually wrong with the story?

CNN hasn't said, but we can gather some clues from a copy of the story that's been accidentally preserved on the website of a local TV station in New York. The piece revolves around a Jan. 16 meeting between Scaramucci and Russia Direct Investment Fund chief executive Kirill Dmitriev. CNN spoke to Scaramucci for its piece, and he described the "meeting" to the network as a brief, incidental interaction at a restaurant in Switzerland during a conference. The since-retracted piece says that Scaramucci discussed this interaction on Bloomberg TV the day after it happened, which is true. Scaramucci told Bloomberg that he spoke to Dmitriev about the possibility of facilitating relationships between the Russian fund and American executives. He also noted to Bloomberg that he would have to conduct any such activity within appropriate ethical guidelines. (At the time, Scaramucci was expected to take an official job in the Trump administration, but that didn't end up happening.)

The CNN story said the Treasury Department was investigating the Scarmucci/Dmitriev meeting at the behest of two Democratic senators (Massachusetts' Elizabeth Warren and Maryland's Ben Cardin) who wanted to know whether it had involved a discussion of the economic sanctions the Obama administration had imposed on Russia. Again, though, the entire story has been retracted. The only thing we should have confidence in is what Scaramucci confirmed: that a conversation between he and Dmitriev took place on Jan. 16.

OK ...

Reading between the lines, it seems like what happened is that CNN hyped up a story about the Scaramucci/Dmitriev conversation even though 1) Scaramucci had already acknowledged the conversation publicly while noting that any action he took as a result of it would have to be governed by ethics rules and 2) There's no evidence that any investigative body has found evidence of inappropriate activity involving Scaramucci or the fund. (The CNN story said the Senate Intelligence Committee is "examining" the Russian fund, which could mean anything or nothing, and that the Treasury Department is "looking into" the Jan. 16 conversation, which is equally vague. If you read the story closely you'll notice that it doesn't say that the Senate committee is investigating the Jan. 16 conversation, even though the framing of the piece would give you that impression.)

But Trump is melting down and claiming in an extended Twitter rant that this quickly acknowledged error in editorial judgment on CNN's part proves that everything negative that's ever been published about him anywhere is made up.


Is there anything else going on in the world that the president should be worrying about instead of a retracted story, which didn't even make much news when it was originally published, involving a peripheral campaign figure?

The further deterioration of the situation in Syria and the pending legislation that would reduce the government's spending on health coverage for low- and middle-income Americans by a trillion dollars.

So, nothing important.

That's correct. Cable news is more important than those things.

James O'Keefe is also back in the news because of CNN.

Yes, O'Keefe, the infamous right-wing provocateur, has re-emerged with another one of his famous "sting" videos, which purports to show a CNN producer admitting that Trump-Russia stories are overhyped for ratings purposes. Trump's son Donald Jr. has been pushing O'Keefe's video on Twitter. However, O'Keefe has a history of editing videos misleadingly and engaging in other unethical behavior, and the CNN producer in O'Keefe's video covers medical subjects such as pediatric heart surgery and the Ice Bucket Challenge, not news or politics.

Is the whole Russia story fake news?

No. While some Russia stories are, indeed, overhyped by Twitter conspiracy theorists and news outlets who know that readers will click-click-click-clickety-click on them, they are not all made up for ratings. For instance, Trump's first national security adviser, who had previously been paid tens of thousands of dollars by entities related to the Russian government, resigned because he lied about a potentially inappropriate conversation he had with the Russian ambassador. Donald Trump then asked the director of the FBI to stop investigating the case. Those things really happened in reality and are not fake.

What is Anthony Scaramucci saying about all of this?

Should CNN Jeff Zucker resign and live the rest of his life in disgrace as a hobo?

Yes, but not because of this.

June 27 2017 1:21 PM

Trump Is Now Accusing Democrats of “Collusion” and “Obstruction”

Compared with allegedly obstructing justice, allegedly profiting off the presidency in violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, allegedly laundering money on behalf of Azerbaijani oligarchs and the Iran Revolutionary Guard in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, allegedly sexually assaulting women, and maybe even working with a foreign dictator to sway the U.S. presidential election—Donald Trump’s crimes against the English language seem relatively minor.

On Sunday morning, however, the president tweeted the following:


I see what he did there. He took the word collude—a word that journalists and voters use daily to describe alleged collaboration between Trump’s campaign surrogates and the Russian government—and slapped it onto Hillary Clinton, who for some reason Trump still considers his political rival. No colluder, no colluder! She’s the colluder!

It’s worth noting some of the ways in which this tweet is interesting:

1. The tweet is nonsensical. Trump wants people to believe that he’s under scrutiny for committing a crime that he did not commit and, moreover, that Hillary committed the same crime and got away with it. Trump is implying that he didn’t secretly and illegally collaborate with Russia, but Hillary secretly collaborated with the Democratic National Committee, and unlike him, she was not investigated by Congress and the FBI for it! But while the conversations among DNC staffers that WikiLeaks published did show that the DNC tried to hurt Bernie Sanders’ candidacy—the “Unfair to Bernie!” tag on Trump’s tweet is its most reasonable clause—those emails did not show Hillary colluding with the DNC to commit a crime, which is what the allegations of collusion against Trumpworld are about. Webster’s defines collusion as “a secret agreement for fraudulent or illegal purpose.” When Trump says “collude,” he seems to mean merely “works with.”

2. The tweet is ironic. We only know about the DNC’s moves to help Clinton win because hackers with ties to the Russians acquired and leaked the DNC emails showing as much. According to the U.S. intelligence community, they did this to help Trump win the election. So Trump here is pointing to Hillary­–DNC “collusion” that potentially came to light due to possible collusion between his own campaign and Russia, if such collusion occurred. Life, indeed, is a rich tome.

3. The tweet is strategic. It’s fascinating to watch Trump try to turn around the words that have caused him so much trouble. We’ve seen this schoolyard-bickering tactic—I’m not colluding, you are—before, most saliently, in Trumpworld’s wielding of fake news. The question now is: Will this strategy work?

Originally, the public conversation about fake news hurt Trump. Its existence and reach were tied to fictional stories that made him look good and made Clinton look bad—“Pope Francis Endorses Trump,” “Hillary Arms ISIS!!!,” and what not. The popularity and spread of these stories suggested that Trump supporters were, at least in part, duped, and that if “fake” news was made-up garbage, “real” news from trustworthy outlets actually existed and was valuable. Trump didn’t like that. After all, the “real” news was accurately covering his scandals and incoherent statements. So he transmogrified fake news, using it to discredit stories that he didn’t like. And it worked. Surrogates like Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway starting using the phrase, too, beating back reporters’ questions simply by stating “fake news.” Fake news became their own.

Now, two other words are harming the Trump administration every time they’re uttered: obstruction and collusion. Since Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the Russia investigation, and particularly since fired FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate on June 8, there’s been a lot of heat on Trump. There’s significant evidence that Trump at least attempted to obstruct justice—in his effort to lean on Comey to “let go” of the FBI’s investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and in his firing of Comey, which by Trump’s own admission, he did at least in part because of the Russia investigation—and so the gang has gone back to the well. Behold some tweets that Trump has burped out since Comey’s testimony:

Monday morning, as the cock crowed, our boy was back at it:

What the White House does not seem to understand or appreciate is that obstruction and collusion pose dangers to the presidency far more serious than fake news ever did. Trump’s battle for the meaning of fake news was primarily one over perception and public opinion. If enough people believed fake news meant what the administration wanted it to mean, the administration had won. Fake news, both in its original meaning and in Trump’s usage, might corrode democracy like so much vodka—but it isn’t a crime.

In contrast, obstruction of justice and collusion with a foreign power to sway an American election are very much crimes. Public perception of what those words mean won’t save Trump from Robert Mueller’s investigation. “Obstruction” and “collusion” accusations against Hillary or other Democrats may soon be common yawps from Fox News and the internet’s MAGA corners, but social media won’t save Trump from the law, either.

Nevertheless, public opinion about just who is “obstructing” and “colluding” could help the administration in one realm: Congress. Republican majorities control the body that ultimately will need to prosecute the president if Mueller finds there is something to prosecute. Perhaps if enough Republican constituents side with the president on what obstruction and collusion really mean and who engages in it, senators and representatives will feel the old pressure of base revolt and primary challenges—and agree with the president that the real crime here is Hillary’s “collusion” with the DNC.

June 27 2017 1:02 PM

Why Is the White House Threatening Syria Over Chemical Weapons?

The White House issued an unusual, specific public warning Monday to the Syrian government, accusing Bashar al-Assad’s regime of planning another chemical weapons attack and vowing that it would “pay a heavy price” if the attack were carried out.

Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley followed up, saying that the governments of Iran and Syria would also be held responsible for such an attack:


The announcement caught at least a few members of the U.S. national security apparatus off guard. BuzzFeed, the AP, and the New York Times reported that some Defense and State officials had no idea the White House was about to release this statement and that they had no idea where the information it was based on came from.

The White House on Tuesday denied these reports, saying that State, Defense, the CIA, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had all been involved in the decision to make the announcement. Whoever was involved, it’s unusual to see such a public and specific warning based on what was presumably classified intelligence.

The Pentagon said Tuesday that the warning was prompted by unspecified activity observed at Syria’s Shayrat Air Base, the same base that the U.S. hit with a barrage of Tomahawk missiles in April in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack. That attack was the first direct U.S. strike against Assad’s forces since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011 and marked a major shift from President Donald Trump, who had indicated during his campaign that his priority would be fighting ISIS and that he was willing to cooperate with both the Syrian government and Russia to target the group.

Tensions have only grown since then. In May, the U.S. launched airstrikes against pro-Assad forces that had ventured close to a base where U.S.-backed rebels were training. The U.S. shot down two Iranian-made drones in early June. Then last week, the U.S. shot down a Syrian fighter jet amid clashes between regime forces and U.S.-backed fighters in northern Syria.

Both the Syrian and Russian governments—which still deny that the regime carried out the April chemical attack—dismissed the latest U.S. allegations.

The immediate fallout of this week’s accusation is likely to be limited. The United States’ main priority is still ISIS, and despite the recent incidents with Syria, there’s no reason to think that priority has changed. But as Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently acknowledged, things are going to get a lot more complicated if and when ISIS’s de facto capital in Raqqa falls. A confrontation between pro-regime forces and the U.S.-backed fighters—Kurdish and Arab—who have been battling ISIS seems almost inevitable, and the administration has signaled it’s willing to use force against Assad. Given that opposition to Syria’s ally Iran is emerging as the organizing principle of the Trump administration’s Mideast strategy, it seems unlikely that the U.S. will agree to simply cede areas captured from ISIS back to Assad. The post-ISIS phase of Syria’s deadly proxy war could be just as messy, dangerous, and deadly.

June 27 2017 12:14 AM

A Cheat Sheet to the Senate Health Bill’s CBO Score

On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office released its score of the Senate Republicans’ version of a health care bill, christened the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The score was not good. The White House, rather than defend the substance of the bill, moved quickly to cast doubt on the CBO’s evaluation. The score, which can be read in its table-filled entirety here, can be for those not practiced in budgetary and health-policy analysis a bit opaque. We’ve pulled a few salient details from the report, as well as related analysis from Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation, and listed them in the following graphic.


June 26 2017 8:15 PM

There Are Two Countries That Prefer Trump to Obama. Take a Wild Guess.

If America is great again, the world—with one or two exceptions—doesn’t seem to know it yet. The Pew Research Center released a new report on Monday comparing views of the United States and the U.S. president from around the world to the same from the end of the Obama era. The results aren’t exactly surprising, but they certainly are dramatic.

The survey of 37 countries taken between the end of February and beginning of May found a drop of 64 to 49 percent in those with a favorable view of the U.S. since the end of the Obama presidency. Those with an unfavorable view increased from 26 percent to 39 percent. As for Trump, the number of people with confidence in the U.S. president fell from 64 to 22 percent, while those with no confidence increased by 22 percent to a whopping 74 percent.


While the difference is most stark in Western Europe, 35 of the 37 countries surveyed had a lower opinion of Trump than Obama:


Pew Research Center

About those outliers: Obama, who had a contentious relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was widely disliked in Israel. The Trump administration has had a couple of missteps in the relationship already, but its hard line against Iran and an approach to the peace process that’s deferential to Israel even by normal U.S. standards, seems to have pleased Israelis.

As for Russia, there were high hopes there—for obvious reasons—that the Trump administration would pursue a more pro-Russian foreign policy. It hasn’t quite turned out that way on a range of issues, from sanctions to Syria policy, and the pro-Kremlin media has reportedly become much more critical of the U.S. president. In other words, the good feelings may not last much longer.