According to The New York Times, the White House plans to derail a House bill that seeks to force tougher sanctions on Russia as a response to the interference in last year’s presidential election.
White House Opposes Tougher Sanctions on Russia
It is unclear why would a U.S. administration refuse to sanction a semi-hostile nation for tampering with its democratic processes. Is it because it wants to maintain an amiable relationship with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin?
The Times found that the Trump administration does not only oppose the tougher sanctions but also seeks to grab the authority of sanctioning or lifting sanctions on a foreign government.
State Secretary Rex Tillerson’s aide R.C. Hammond told the newspaper that the administration would like “flexibility” in dealing with Russia. Hammond suggested that Russia might want to withdraw from Ukraine or comply with the Minsk agreement regarding Ukraine. In these scenarios, Hammond would like to have the possibility to “dial back.”
In other words, the Trump White House is opposing tougher sanctions but also seeks the authority to nix those sanctions.
The Context Has Changed
One expert that talked to The New York Times, Mark Dubowitz, thinks that the Obama administration or “any administration” would have done the same thing as the Trump administration when it comes to waivers. However, Dubowitz fails to see the bigger picture here. Trump’s associates have been accused of colluding with Russia on the campaign trail, and Russia is suspected of helping Trump winning the election.
Republicans in Congress are aware of the situation, and the White House’s opposition could spark a fight between the GOP-controlled House and the GOP executive branch, which would be a PR disaster. The new bill has already passed the Senate, so, the Trump administration is trying to block it in the House.
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