Tulane foreign relations expert weighs in White House Russia controversy

Tulane foreign relations expert weighs in White House Russia controversy

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - As President Donald Trump accuses the news media of making a big deal over his former national security adviser's dealings with Russian government officials, a Tulane University foreign policy expert weighs in on how the controversy could play on the international stage.

"You can talk all you want about Russia, which was all a fake news fabricated deal," the president said during a protracted Thursday news conference at the White House.

Trump strongly rejected seemingly growing concerns about Mike Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in late December before Trump assumed the presidency.

Though Trump fired Flynn this week, his toughest public words were for the news media and those inside government leaking information to the press.
"He was just doing his job. The thing is, he didn't tell our vice president properly and didn't he said he didn't remember so either way it wasn't very satisfactory to me," Trump said.

Tulane international relations and foreign policy professor Chris Fettweis reacted to the controversy over Flynn.

"That's the kind of thing that happens," he said. "That itself wouldn't be so bad in my view, it had happened before, the Nixon Administration after the election in '68 they talked to the North Koreans and said don't make peace with LBJ until we get into office and we had the Reagan administration negotiating with the Iranians about the hostages before they got into office, so it depends on what Flynn was talking about with the Russians," Fettweis said.

Obama imposed sanctions against Russia during the waning days of his administration after Russia was blamed for high-level hacking seen by the U.S. as an attempt to influence the presidential race between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. Fettweis was asked about how the story may play with the broader international community.

"I think they're pretty much aghast, I think they're pretty worried about what's going on," he said.

And as Democrats push for an investigation into Flynn's actions and some accuse Trump of being soft on Russia, Fettweis believes the Kremlin is enjoying every bit of it.

"That's probably what the Russians would like to see is chaos inside the United States," he said.

There is also speculation that Trump's court-halted travel ban involving some majority Muslim nations will hurt America's image abroad.

"Whether it hurts us materially whether it actually makes more people join ISIS I don't know. People say, well it's going to embolden ISIS. ISIS is pretty bold, they're already angry with us. Whether or not they're going to be angrier with us or get more recruits remains to be seen," Fettweis said.

Trump also insists that his administration is operating smoothly.

"There's zero chaos, we are running, this is a fine-tuned machine," he told the press corps.

But Fettweis said the fact that Trump's choice to replace Flynn declined the job signals otherwise.

"And that's a sign that this White House is not exactly, maybe the well-oiled machine that Donald Trump said yesterday it was," he said.

Fettweis said while Trump is disturbed by leaks, they are inevitable. He said they help to keep a check on government.

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