Over the weekend, Vladimir Putin announced he will expel 755 Americans from his country in retaliation for Congress imposing a new round of sanctions over Russia's meddling in last year's election.
So far, the White House's response has been total silence on the matter. Michael Shear of The New York Times asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders why Donald Trump hasn't responded, quoting unnamed sources as saying it is “striking” the president hasn't said anything yet. Sanders replied:
“Right now, we're reviewing our options, and when we have something to say on it, we'll let you know.”
We grant you there was some chaos in the White House press office on Monday, but this seems kind of important. The president had fought against the sanctions bill, but now said he intends to sign it. Not that he has much choice, since it passed both houses of Congress with overwhelming veto-proof majorities. So Putin retaliated by kicking out several hundred diplomats and related embassy and consulate employees, and the White House can't do any better than “We're reviewing our options and ... we'll let you know”?
Granted the president is somewhat stuck between a rock and a hard place, with Congress wanting to make a statement about the Russian election meddling that the president still publicly claims didn't actually happen despite all evidence to the contrary. (Putin even denied it to his face and everything.)
White House silence on the issue is perhaps to be expected, seeing how the president has boxed himself in. But that does not make it normal.
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.