That position, sure to antagonize Russia, came as the President adopted the most skeptical view he has yet displayed on the possibility of improving relations with the Kremlin, a position he once advanced as a candidate and that flew in the face of geopolitical realities and universal elite opinion in Washington.
“Right now we are not getting along with Russia at all. We may be at an all-time low in terms of relationship with Russia,” Trump said at a White House news conference, in stark tones at odds with his former vows to ease the new chill in ties with the US nuclear foe.
Trump made castigating China a staple of his presidential campaign, saying the communist giant was guilty of “rape” against the US economy and promising it would be branded a currency manipulator on his first day in the Oval Office.
In another reversal, Trump praised Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, whom he had previously pledged to replace when her term expires, and once accused of holding interest rates low as a political boost for former President Barack Obama.
It was not clear whether Trump’s sudden policy flips were the product of a new outlook and worldview. But previous presidents have often remarked that the world looks a lot different from the Oval Office than from a campaign rally.
It may not be a coincidence that Trump’s adoption of conventional political positions came the day after a stunning interview with the New York Post in which he publicly criticized his political guru Stephen Bannon, his insurgent, populist political conscience.
His demotion was seen as another sign that the more moderate, establishment orientated influences in his administration — epitomized by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and chief economic adviser Gary Cohn — were rising to the detriment of Bannon and his anti-establishment cohort Stephen Miller.
Of course, one day of policy adjustments does not necessarily mean that Trump’s unique political persona and methodology are suddenly going to change. After all, the President has spent most of his first 100 days in office torching conventional political practice — often trading in untruths and exaggerations and pouring oil on political controversies on Twitter, including accusations that his campaign had links to the Kremlin, at a time when Moscow was being accused of interfering in the US election.
There is no sign, for instance, that Trump is pulling back from other controversial positions — including doubling down on border enforcement and expulsions of undocumented immigrants.