Congress Forces Trump to Sanction Russia

Trump began his presidency trying to improve U.S.-Russia relations. Congress wants to make that impossible—but Trump doesn’t have to play by their rules.

Congress Forces Trump to Sanction Russia

On Thursday, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on several Russian organizations and individuals in response to alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. A congressional mandate passed this summer forced Trump to take action, which he only did two months after the January deadline. Trump has avoided falling into the Russia hysteria for the most part, and delayed any sanctions as long as possible, but his hand was finally forced by the nearly unanimous vote from Congress.

However, Trump’s execution leaves much to be desired. Among others, the sanctions targeted the three Russian organizations and 13 Russian citizens indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller. By doing this, Trump has lent credence to the Mueller investigation which is specifically designed to take down Trump and his closest allies. After he praised Mueller when the indictments were first announced, it was clear that Trump was fine with any outcome from the Russia investigation, as long as it stopped short of collusion between his campaign and the Russian government. But he also has repeatedly called the investigation a “witch hunt.” How can he credibly do that now? By giving this ground, Trump has only emboldened his enemies and given them traction to push for a collusion indictment and, eventually, impeachment.

Democrat minority leader Chuck Schumer wasted no time capitalizing on the error, releasing a statement that day which read:

“The fact that the administration has issued sanctions against individuals and entities indicted by Special Counsel Mueller proves that his investigation is not a ‘witch hunt’ as the president and his allies have claimed.”

Other Democrats made it known that the sanctions had only whetted their appetite for escalation toward Russia. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J) said in a statement, “I expect to see additional sanctions in short order against specific Russian entities responsible for undermining our democracy. The longer we wait, we know the Russian government will continue to shift resources to other propaganda factories that spew disinformation and lies.”

Far from over, the Russia delusion from the Democrats continues full steam ahead.

But to any informed observer, the accusations against Moscow are ridiculous and hypocritical. The United States government is complaining about foreign meddling in its election? The same U.S. government that overthrows regimes around the world, enforces “democracy” on other countries, and uses the CIA and other means to subvert and influence any election it wishes is now up in arms over a few Facebook posts by Russian citizens and unproven allegations of “hacking.” No country in the world performs more foreign interference than the United States, and that includes in Russia. Russia knows this, and to the extent that it does perform the actions described by the U.S. government (which is almost certainly far less than alleged), Russia, or individual Russian actors, feels justified in doing so. In 2015 Russia passed a law which allows the country to ban “undesirable” Western NGOs which often operate as human rights organizations, but work to undermine Russia’s stability and social order. Under this law, Putin has banned George Soros’ Open Society Foundation along with many “pro-democracy” organizations and other NGOs. These organizations, and the American government itself, are far more subversive and have done far more damage than anything Russia might have done in America. As Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov put it, “When talking about some ‘intrusion,’ the authors of these decisions should better talk about their own madness.”

All told, the administration applied sanctions to five entities (including two Russian intelligence agencies and the Internet Research Agency, a troll factory) and 19 Russian citizens. The sanctions bar them from traveling to the United States and freeze all the assets they have in America. Once again, the Washington establishment is embarrassing America with its blatant and hypocritical warmongering. As Trump attempted to soothe relations between the two greatest military powers in the world, Congress was waiting with trumped up charges and hyperbole. According to them, Russia “attacked” the United States in 2016. Many of them see Trump as a kind of Russian agent, or at least a stooge. No action from Trump will ever satiate their appetite. That’s why Trump should do as little as possible and call out their lies at every turn. Not only would it be the right thing to do, it is an intelligent strategy for Trump to protect himself. Any damage done to Russia is looked at as damage done to Trump by his enemies. The President is going to continue to hear shouts telling him to be more belligerent toward Russia. He needs to tune them out for the good of his presidency and the good of the country.

Jay Lorenz
ADMINISTRATOR
PROFILE

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