by MARGOT CLEVELAND
President Biden was actually operating from a coherent perspective in discussing Russia and Ukraine in Wednesday’s press conference: In every instance, as you go line-for-line in the transcript, his foreign policy—and the fact that he announced it to the world—is one where Russia has leverage over Biden and the president has a personal vendetta against the current Ukrainian government.
When asked whether sanctions would deter Vladimir Putin from attacking Ukraine, our commander in chief replied that Russia “will be held accountable if it invades,” but then clarified: “It depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do, et cetera.” Biden then juxtaposed a “minor incursion,” which would lead to a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) fight over how to respond, with Russia doing “what they’re capable of doing with the forces amassed on the border.”
In that case, Biden assured the audience—which surely included Putin and his top military leaders—“our allies and partners are ready to impose severe costs and significant harm on Russia and the Russian economy.” Biden then proceeded to ramble aloud his internal thoughts on Putin’s thinking before adding, in reference to Ukraine, “My guess is he will move in. He has to do something.”
After the press conference, Biden’s team attempted to walk back his “minor incursion” comment, but it was much too late for that. Putin already noted the greenlight that Biden flashed, not just once, but twice.
The second surrender came when a reporter offered the president a chance to correct himself live, asking, “Are you effectively giving Putin permission to make a small incursion into the country?” Biden laughed, saying, “That’s how it did sound like, didn’t it?”
Significantly, though, Biden did not disavow that understanding, but instead said “the most important thing . . .big nations can’t bluff, number one.” So, to Biden telling Putin we would respond to any invasion, even a minor incursion, would be nothing but a bluff.
Here’s Some Free Intel, Russia
Biden then did the unthinkable—unless you’re in Putin’s pocket, that is: He told our Russian adversary that NATO is split on how to respond to anything “short of a significant invasion.” “There are differences in NATO as to what countries are willing to do depending on what happens — the degree to which they’re able to go,” Biden explained.
Don’t worry, though, Biden seemed to say, because Putin wants some things that we are more than willing to give him. The president then told the world and Russia precisely what we were willing to commit to: no strategic weapons in Ukraine and no NATO membership for Ukraine in the near term.
Biden also made sure to let Putin know what we knew, or suspected, such as that a move from the north, from Belarus, would require Russia “to wait a little bit until the ground is frozen so he can cross.” The president also told his Russian counterpart that we knew they had “people in Ukraine now trying to undermine the solidarity within Ukraine about Russia and to try to promote Russian interest,” making it very important to keep “everyone in NATO on the same page.”
More Presents for Putin
Wednesday’s bowing to Russia, unfortunately was not Biden’s first capitulation.
The Business Insider detailed Biden’s first present to Putin in an article, the title of which presents perfectly the irony laid out below: “Trump was slammed for cozying up to Putin, but Biden handed him a greater gift by waiving sanctions on a gas pipeline that could destabilize Europe.”
That article detailed Biden’s backtracking on the sanctions Trump had imposed against Russia concerning the Nord Stream pipeline that connected Russia to Germany. Congress would later also impose sanctions on the CEO of the company constructing the pipeline, an ally of Putin according to the Business Insider.
While “Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised in March to keep looking for ways to stop” the pipeline, by July the Biden administration agreed to allow the project to go forward, even though Democratic colleagues of the president had also “long opposed the project,” according to the article. Here, the opposition stemmed not merely because “it hands Russia an economic advantage over its European neighbors but because it could cause the US significant foreign-policy problems in the future. Chief among those problems are fears that Nord Stream 2 could liberate Russia to invade Ukraine – a US and EU ally – where Putin annexed Crimea in 2014.”
Because “Russia imports gas through Ukraine,” the article explained, Putin would be hesitant to interfere with its supply route. But with the Nord Stream 2 bypassing Ukraine, “Russia may no longer feel bound by the same caution.”
What On Earth Was Biden Thinking?
After Wednesday’s press conference, the Kremlin likely sees little risk to invading its western neighbor, at least the portions populated by ethnic Russians.
What could possibly possess our commander in chief, the leader of the most powerful country in the free world, to treat Russia and Ukraine as two vying contests on a reality-TV show, with Biden publicly declaring his love for Russia and sending Ukraine packing? And what could possibly cause Biden to change course and reverse the one sanction that seems to stalemate the standoff between Putin and Ukraine?
For four years, Democrats and the leftist press saw an easy answer to President Trump’s every comment related to Russia and Ukraine: kompromat and corruption.
The claim that Russia had leverage over Trump gained traction before his inauguration when a leak to CNN led the network to publish news of what is now known as the Steele dossier. Later published by BuzzFeed, the discredited work of fiction that relied on false “intel” fed to Steele by Russian national Igor Danchenko and that was financed by the Hillary Clinton campaign claimed the Russian government had “kompromat,” or “compromising information,” on Trump.
Russian Collusion Used to Be a Huge Narrative
For years, the anti-Trump contingent used the Steele dossier and its claim that Russia held leverage over the president to fan the flames of a Trump-Russia conspiracy. But the Russia-leverage narrative extended beyond the discredited dossier and continued throughout Trump’s term.
For instance, in a May 2019 article titled, “Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy ‘Is One Where Russia Has Leverage Over Him,’ Former CIA Official Says,” Newsweek discussed a former CIA and defense official’s appearance on MSNBC. Appearing on the cable network’s “Morning Joe,” Jeremy Bash “argued that Trump’s international policies appear to be impacted by Russian ‘leverage over him’” the Newsweek article explained.
“I would say that the president actually is operating from a coherent perspective, in that he totally pushes away intelligence, he doesn’t listen to it, every instance as you go down the line, his foreign policy is one where Russia has leverage over him,” Bash told the MSNBC audience.
Bash, a former CIA official, then identified what he claimed was a series of foreign policy decisions favorable to Russia, including what Bash called Trump’s “decision to denigrate NATO.” Bash also highlighted Trump’s comments about Russia rejoining the G-7 and his supposed “decision to endorse election interference by [Russian President] Vladimir Putin,” to support the case that Putin had Trump in his back pocket.
The Atlantic pushed this same narrative, in its article entitled, “Donald Trump Gave Russia Leverage Over His Presidency.” There, the liberal outlet argued Trump lied when shortly after his inauguration he said, “Russia is a ruse,” and that he had “nothing to do with Russia.”
With these denials, Trump handed Russian intelligence “the ability to unmask Trump as a liar to the American public,” the Atlantic argued, relying on BuzzFeed’s account of the negotiations involving a potential Trump Tower in Moscow. Likewise, “the prospect that the Russians have been in possession of evidence suggesting that the president’s son may have committed a felony,” gave Russia leverage over Trump, according to the article.
Blackmail Is a Powerful International Tool
Susan Hennessey, now a member of the Biden administration’s Department of Justice National Security Division, likewise peddled this theory on a Lawfare podcast, suggesting “the United States is in an incredibly dangerous position where the American president is aware that a hostile foreign adversary potentially has devastating—politically devastating and potentially legally and criminally devastating, if not for him, then for members of his family or organization.”
“Those really are the kinds of conditions where your worst nightmare is about blackmail and influence,” Hennessey added in her discussion of the Kremlin and what it might know about Trump.
While kompromat explained Trump’s handling of Russia, according to his critics, Democrats and their partners in the press claimed corruption governed his interactions with Ukraine. Here, according to the left, Trump used his position as president of the United States to demand the newly elected Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, launch a supposedly sham investigation into 2016 election interference and the Biden family.
The closely coordinated effort between the anti-Trump deep state, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, and the press led to the House impeaching Trump for supposedly “subvert[ing] U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermin[ing] our national security,” to damage his political foe, Joe Biden.
Apply the Trump Narrative to Biden
Using the same lens as the left’s, then, what can possibly explain Joe Biden’s performance Wednesday afternoon? Why would he subvert U.S. foreign policy toward both Ukraine and Russia and America’s relationship with its NATO allies?
It is inexplicable? Or is it? Might Russia have leverage against Joe Biden?
Hunter Biden thought they did, according to a video of the president’s son published by The Daily Mail in August of 2021. The “unearthed footage,” The Daily Mail reported, captured a naked Hunter Biden telling a prostitute that ‘the Russians have videos of me doing crazy f-cking sex!’”
As I reported at the time: “The video then captured Hunter telling the prostitute that during the summer of 2018 he had nearly overdosed from drugs while partying in Las Vegas with his drug dealer and two other guys. When he came to later, ‘there was this Russian 35-year-old, really nice, pure brunette,’ Hunter explained. He then discovered his laptop was missing.
‘I think he’s the one that stole my computer,’ Hunter said on the tape, apparently referring to his drug dealer. ‘I think the three of them, the three guys that were like a little group. The dealer and his two guys, I took them everywhere,’ Hunter explained. ‘They have videos of me doing this. They have videos of me doing crazy f-cking sex f-cking, you know,’ Hunter added. ‘My computer, I had taken tons of like, just left like that cam on,’ Hunter continued, ‘and somebody stole it during that period of time.’”
At this point, the prostitute asked Hunter if he feared the Russian thieves would try to “blackmail” him.
“Yeah, in some way yeah,” Hunter responded, adding that his father is “running for president,” and that “I talk about it all the time.”
The risk of blackmail to the president, however, extends much beyond a sex scandal involving Hunter and includes potential text and email messages stored on the stolen laptop that implicate “the Big Guy” in a pay-to-play scandal.