On Monday, the Trump administration informed lawmakers that they don’t believe the new Russia sanctions are necessary. This was with particular respect to a bipartisan bill passed last year. Trump’s team posits that the actual sanctions aren’t because the measure is already “serving as a deterrent.”
The announcement came as a bit of a blow to lawmakers, as both parties nudged the administration to go ahead and implement sanctions legislation that passed overwhelmingly in July — with only five “NO” votes in both the Senate and the House.
A State Department spokesperson said by email that the administration is “using this legislation as Congress intended to press Russia to address our concerns related to its aggression in Ukraine, interference in other nations’ domestic affairs and abuses of human rights.
Perhaps even more interesting than Trump’s refusal to enact sanctions imposed by Congress is that the same law gave Monday — the same day as the State Department’s announcement — as the deadline for the Trump administration to produce a list of oligarchs known to be linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as a report on the consequences of sanctioning Russia’s sovereign debt.
Trump’s team released an “unclassified version” of the oligarchs list late Monday, following the announcement that they had decided to cancel the sanctions. In fact, the Treasury Department noted that the roster “is not a sanctions list” and that those listed do not necessarily “meet the criteria for designation under any sanctions program” as a result of their inclusion.
Short of a neon sign that reads, “PLEASE DON’T FORGET THIS PRESIDENT WAS ELECTED BY COLLUDING WITH A HOSTILE FOREIGN POWER,” I’m not sure that Trump’s position on this could be more clear.
Chris Murphy (D-CT) spoke with MSNBC’s Morning Joe on this issue. When asked by host Joe Scarborough what he thinks about Donald Trump “…once again allowing Vladimir Putin to skate and not implementing sanctions that are so badly needed to send Russia a tough signal.”
Senator Murphy told Scarborough:
“When Donald Trump is sending them [Russians] totally different signals telling them that there’s really no consequences for your prior manipulation of US elections — that’s really no deterrent at all.”
Props to Senator Murphy for saying what we are all thinking.