"At the time of Putin’s announcement" that the USA embassy in Russia must cut 755 employees, we read in Vox,
Andrew Weiss, the head of research on Russia and Eurasia at the Carnegie Endowment, tweeted that it represented a “Big escalation — and big dilemma for Trump. Will he roll over or retaliate?”
Trump has chosen the former, literally thanking the Russian president for expelling American diplomatic staff and dramatically cutting the US’s diplomatic presence in Russia — on the grounds that it supposedly would cut down the United States’ payroll.
Virtually every American president would either roll over or retaliate. However, Donald Trump is different and responded
I want to thank [Putin], because we’re trying to cut down on payroll. And as far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll. There’s no real reason for them to go back. So, I greatly appreciate the fact that they’ve been able to cut our payroll for the United States. We’ll save a lot of money.
This statement is both shabby and detestable. On another level, however, it's very telling, coming from Donald J. Trump in the midst of an investigation into possible collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia.
"There are no atheists in foxholes," it is observed, yet Trump who said "I don't like to have to ask for forgiveness" and condescendingly referred to "my little wine" and "my little cracker" of communion. Interviewed by longtime Christian right leader Cal Thomas, Trump strangely called Jesus Christ "somebody I can totally rely on in my own mind" while Christians insist they love the Father and the Son with mind, soul, and heart.
Either Donald Trump is the most ignorant believer or non-believer in America or he was sending Christians a message that he was not one of them and didn't care to be. Moreover, five months earlier he had boasted "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters," thereby daring people to vote against him.
It didn't work, but that was not for lack of trying. Now people everywhere are wondering whether he was aware of likely collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin to bring Hillary down. In the midst of an investigation which may conclude that he was aware his campaign was conspiring with an adversary against a general election opponent, Donald Trump thanks Vladimir Putin for expelling American diplomats and spies.
Donald Trump is the child-President. And like a child trying to determine how far he can push his mother, Donald Trump is pushing the voters to determine how far he can go in making his outrageousness obvious to everyone. Having figuratively slapped evangelical Christians (who eventually rewarded him with their support) and voters in general (you people would vote for a cold-blooded murderer if he hates your enemies enough), he now is sufficiently audacious (in Barack Obama's terminology) to lay it out out for all to see.
Nodding and winking toward the Russian president, Trump is saying to his domestic audience "I owe Putin. I'm involved. How simple do I have to make it for you people?"