Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

President's Silence since Poison Attack Speaks Volumes

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

President's Silence since Poison Attack Speaks Volumes

Article excerpt

Byline: STATESIDE With US Editor Christopher Bucktin

WHEN Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned, Theresa May said it was "highly likely" Russia was responsible for the attack.

The Prime Minister stated that Britain would not tolerate such a "brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil", promising retaliatory actions if Moscow was found responsible.

Her message to Vladimir Putin and the rest of the world was unequivocal.

Yet for one man, her words fell on deaf ears.

Ever since the attack in Salisbury on March 4, Donald Trump, the most outspoken world leader in history, has remained unusually quiet, refusing to publicly back Britain in its belief.

For 10 days, in fact, the commander-in-tweet, who likes nothing better than the sound of his own voice, failed to utter a single word.

Only when backed into the corner about the attack, did his mouthpiece Sarah Huckabee Sanders finally speak.

But despite describing Britain as "our oldest ally", she pointedly avoided saying the word "Russia" when very specifically questioned about the country's culpability in the poisoning.

When asked - three times - about Moscow's accountability she refused to say "Russia".

Instead, she characterised it as an "indiscriminate" attack.

It was the classic non-committal smoke and mirrors charade the White House is now famous for.

Her token words rang hollow as the President of the United States of America failed, up until Tuesday, to muster a single syllable and even then he chose not to condemn state involvement.

Instead, it was left to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to state the poisoning "clearly came from Russia".

His attack shone a spotlight on Trump's uneasy detente with Putin while embarrassing the president to the world.

For Trump, it was too much. Within hours of speaking, Tillerson was sacked.

The problem for the president was that his secretary of state was acting like a leader rather than displaying the cowardice or incompetence Trump continues to show.

This is a president, after all, who has been willing to believe the best about Putin. …

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