January 28, 2017

This exchange between Thomas Roberts of MSNBC and Chris Dickey, European Editor of The Daily Beast, caught my ear as I was waiting for AM Joy to come on. Dickey was asked what the chances are for sanctions to be lifted on Russia?

CHRIS DICKEY, DAILY BEAST: Well, I think that's the number one question on everybody's mind, not only on the Russian and the American minds, but on the minds of NATO and Theresa May, for instance, when she spoke yesterday at the press conference. She made it clear she's not ready to lift any sanctions on Russia. We'll see whether she had any influence on Trump when she saw him yesterday. We're not going to really know what that conversation was like. And in fact, you know, honestly, Thomas, Vladimir Putin may not know what it's like. If Trump starts to ramble on the way he does, it will be very hard to decipher exactly what his intentions are.

THOMAS ROBERTS, MSNBC: We do know that the conversation between Putin and Trump has happened before, since he won the election. This will be the first time president to president that they will speak. But Angela Merkel is also on this list of calls today, coming up right before that call to Vladimir Putin, [she is] a supporter of pro-refugee policies. How do you think that that's going to work, especially with the new executive order by Donald Trump which is specifically targeting the countries that we've highlighted here, for 120 days?

DICKEY: Well, you know, Thomas, I think that Germany's refugee policy is its own. It's a controversial policy. It's been a relative open door policy. Merkel has had to dial it back a little bit. But I don't think she sees it as an American policy. There was a moment when the Obama administration felt that it had to prove that it would take some refugees. They were all vetted very, very, very carefully. This idea that they were somehow not vetted is just nuts. They were vetted extremely carefully. That's why not a single Syrian refugee has been at all involved with any terrorism in the United States. But that doesn't matter to this administration, because this administration is playing on an emotional idea, which is that foreigners are dangerous, that Muslims are dangerous. Merkel will push back against that. But her biggest concern is going to be NATO, what's the deal with NATO. Is Trump going to support NATO. To some extent, his skepticism about NATO has been exaggerated. He has always said that everybody needs to pay their way in NATO, and if they don't, then, you know, questions would be asked. That's not the same as saying he's going to turn his back on NATO. I think that Theresa May yesterday for Britain, Angela Merkel today for Germany, they'll want a really clear statement on just where he stands on support of NATO and all of its members, including the Baltic States, for instance, or Poland, countries that may be threatened or intimidated by Russia.

ROBERTS: Christopher, what do we have in terms of expectation or coverage of the conversation between Francois Hollande and President Trump? That's also on the schedule for today. How is French media characterizing what this relationship could mean?

DICKEY: The French media think Trump is insane.

Folks, let's hope and pray that every single country around the world just figures Trump is absolutely nuts, gives him attention only when necessary, and otherwise holds their collective breath until a sane president comes into office (and no, I'm not thinking Pence.)

That's the best international outcome we can hope for at the moment.

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