US President Donald Trump raised the ire of his counterpart in Moscow by striking a Syrian airfield last Friday, and in doing so disrupted the media narrative that he is too cosy with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A CBS News poll published yesterday found majority support for the bombing ordered by Trump, and just 35 per cent of US adults said they believe the President is "too friendly" with Russia, down 8 percentage points since February.
Notably, Trump made headway with Democrats and independents. (Republicans needed less convincing to begin with.) Sixty-two per cent of Democrats still say Trump is too friendly, but that figure represents a 13-point drop. The share of independents who view Trump as too friendly towards Russia declined by 9 points, to 30 per cent.
Coverage of Trump's military action noted that the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles - aimed at the airfield from which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces are believed to have deployed a chemical-weapon attack on civilians last week - puts the US at odds with Russia, which has supported the Assad regime.
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After his inauguration, Trump did little to inspire confidence that he could stand up to Putin when he defended the Russian leader in a Fox News interview. Bill O'Reilly remarked to Trump that "Putin is a killer," referring to suspicions that the Kremlin has been behind the deaths of journalists and dissidents. Trump replied: "We have a lot of killers. Well, you think our country is so innocent?"
FBI Director James Comey confirmed that his agency is investigating whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to meddle in the election. There is no proof of collusion, but the FBI and CIA agree that Russia sought to help Trump win. The airstrike does counter the notion that Trump might reflexively yield to Putin on important decisions.