Tensions arose on MSNBC’s Ayman when Republican commentator Tom Nichols called out fellow panelist Melinda Haring for her partial defense of Donald Trump’s Ukraine and Russia policies while he president.
The dust-up took place on Sunday as the two spoke to Ayman Mohyeldin about the Republican Party’s shifting attitudes toward Russia amid the invasion of Ukraine. Haring, the deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, objected to the idea that Trump’s policies were completely bad.
Yeah, Trump was terrible on Ukraine. He was obnoxious. He got rid of [Marie] Yovanovitch. He brought about Ukraine-gate. All that’s true. But his actual policy was not bad. He was actually pretty tough on Russia. I think that gets lost in the debate. Would [Vladimir Putin] have gone in now? The interesting thing is the Russians are more scared of Trump than they are of [Joe] Biden. The Russians think that Biden is weak, and that was one of the reasons why they calculated they could go in now. They were scared of Trump because he’s irrational and erratic…I think that has to be part of the discussion as well.
Haring followed up by answering Mohyeldin’s question and saying Trump “absolutely” weakened the U.S.’ alliances with NATO and transatlantic partners. She stuck to her argument though that Putin went into Ukraine because “he saw weakness everywhere…It wasn’t just about Trump. It’s much broader than that.”
After a commercial break, Nichols took umbrage with Haring’s point, and launched into a counterargument. He especially focused on how Trump attempted to roll back policies that were tough on Russia, plus the former president’s first impeachment for withholding aid to Ukraine in exchange for a political favor.
I can’t let it stand to say that Trump was somehow tough on Russia here. There has to be a correction involved because the policies of the U.S. government were tough on Russia, put in place under Bush and Obama. Trump was impeached specifically because he was trying to get other people to break the law, to undermine those existing policies because he didn’t want to be perceived as rolling back those policies. He was literally trying to undermine the policies of his own government by getting other people to break the law and to weaken Ukraine. That’s why he was impeached. So it’s not correct to say that Trump was tough. The existing policies were tough. Trump had left them in place, and then broke the law and reached the point of impeachment by trying to undermine those policies.
Watch above, via MSNBC.
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