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Fmr. CIA Station Chief Tells Morning Joe Trump is ‘Playing Good Cop’ with Russia, and ‘That’s Appropriate’

On MSNBC, former CIA station chief and Navy officer Scott Uehlinger, who served 12 years in the Soviet Union for the CIA, told Joe Scarborough this morning that he thinks Donald Trump has played the whole meeting with Vladimir Putin correctly.

Uehlinger stated that Putin mostly wants legitimacy and “appearing to be larger than he is on the world stage,” and that he has “certainly” achieved that. But that’s not the most important part of this, he thinks.

“President Trump, I think, understands that the key, if there is a key forward to any success with improving our relations, is to use that against Putin,” said Uehlinger.

“He is flattering Putin, to a certain degree, complimenting him diplomatically,” he said. “He plays the good cop while his administration people play the bad cop, somewhat, and I think that is appropriate.”

Uehlinger says this is how you work Russia. “The way forward with Russians is not by publicly criticizing them, but instead privately criticizing them behind closed doors, which I hope will happen today, and that will allow us to move forward,” he said. “But certainly overt criticism of Russian policy to the Nth degree is not really going to be the path to any success in improving our relations.”

Joe then points out that administration officials like U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others speak out as loudly against Putin as “Ronald Reagan’s government would.”

Former U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul says that this would be imputing coherence to foreign policy under Trump that isn’t there, and that Trump’s goal is wrong, to boot.

“I don’t think improving relations with Russia should be the goal of American foreign policy. The goal should be concrete things,” he said.” Improving relations, happy talk, we’re friendly now… those are means to tangible outcome.”

“The Trump administration as a whole has a pretty good policy on Russia, pushing back on a lot of things,” said McFaul. “President Trump just doesn’t agree with it.”

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