Charles Krauthammer said that punishing Russia is important to maintain U.S. credibility, but he does not think Trump gains anything by defensively downplaying it:
I think it’s a mistake for Trump to try to keep downplaying this. It doesn’t help him. It makes him look defensive. It’s not going to have any effect on the outcome. Once there’s a change in presidencies, this is not going to be a major issue. The sanctions are so ridiculously small and tit-for-tat. You can be sure the Russians are going to expel an equal number of Americans. I’ve been told one of the safe houses they’re going to be shutting down in Virginia, was shut down by Reagan 30 years ago and it reopened. These are revolving door stuff. This is sort of Mad magazine Spy vs. Spy and not much more. And the timing is ridiculous. If you are going too this, you do it when it happens. You don’t say to Vladimir Putin during an election, “Cut it out.” This is adolescent. You say, “There will be consequences.” And you make them stick. I think it’s a fairly trivial affair.
Look, the Russians, they stole our mail. They read our mail. They published our mail. That’s called espionage. You are not supposed to do that. You do it, we punish you. That should have been done 18 months ago. You send a signal to the Chinese, the Iranians, and others, we will punish you. This is a slap on the wrist. It will pass, and there’s no reason for Trump to downplay it. I think he thinks it impugns his legitimacy. Some Democrats would like people to think that. I think he’s overplaying the significance. Let it go.