A high-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday said President Obama's attempt to “reset” relations with Russia hasn't succeeded.
“That's right,” Sen. Chris CoonsChris CoonsSenators introduce new Iran sanctions Gorsuch sails on day one, but real test is Tuesday Live coverage: Supreme Court nominee hearings begin MORE (D-Del.) told MSNBC when asked if the reset hasn't worked. “I think that's because of calculations that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's made internally about his own domestic politics. I think it's partly about the leadership in Russia feeling that their diminished role in the world pushes them to act more aggressively."
Coons also praised Obama and Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham Clinton“60 Minutes” tracks how fake news spreads Ill. gov candidate runs as fresh face, despite ties to political machine Huma Abedin 'working hard' on marriage with Anthony Weiner: report MORE. Despite Russia dragging its feet in approving sanctions against Iran, Coons said, “I do think this president and the secretary of state and vice president have been effective and engaged in pushing back and in building a multilateral coalition, in engaging in areas of the world where we've been able to lead.”
Republicans hope to use the Kremlin's defiance of American objectives — especially its continued support for President Bashar Assad of Syria — to make the case that Obama is a weak leader who refuses to stand up to foreign governments.
In particular, they point to Obama's hot-mic declaration to then-President Dmitri Medvedev in March that he needed “space” until after the election to handle strains over missile defense as evidence that Obama isn't trustworthy.
— This story was updated at 3:16 p.m. to clarify the senator's remarks.