Friday October 19, 2018
If a single exchange stood out during the tense interview of President Trump with the CBS News 60 Minutes on Sunday — Washington Post listed 8 of them — I would say it was when he tried to filibuster Lesley Stahl over the topic of ‘Russian meddling’ in the American elections.
Stahl kept taunting Trump but all she’d get was Trump repeating, ‘But China also meddled in the US elections.’ When she pointed out that she was asking about Russia, Trump repeated calmly, “And I think, frankly, China is a bigger problem”. Later, Stahl recounted that out of all 4 interviews she’s taken with Trump in the past 2 years, he was different this time: “He’s truly President. He felt it, I felt it.” Now, that was fulsome compliment from someone who is known to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
Most certainly, Trump is unceremoniously shifting the narrative on Russia by laterally inserting China into it. He calculates that it pays, since ‘Russia collusion’ did not turn out to be a campaign issue in the midterm election in US, after all. Besides, the tide of opinion in the US regarding China has changed so dramatically and the focus is no longer on Russia. Arguably, engaging Russia as ‘counterweight’ to China might even appeal to the American opinion. Henry Kissinger long advocated it.