So, we learn that the Russians declared information warfare on our elections, attempting to get the candidate they believed best for Russia – Trump – elected president. President Obama levied heavy sanctions upon Russia back at the end of December 2016 for activities we had known already. We had a president who recognized an attack, and hit back with what he could at that early point.
President Obama took two beloved Russian diplomatic/spy properties near New York, Washington DC and a mission in San Francisco. He also immediately kicked out out many Russian diplomats and their families. Moreover, Obama had applied sanctions against Russia for Putin’s actions against the Ukraine years ago. Obama never liked Putin, had been equally tough to Putin as Putin had been to the United States. Obama was a real president.
Upon his inauguration, Trump immediately tried to rescind the sanctions:
“There was serious consideration by the White House to unilaterally rescind the sanctions,” according to Dan Fried, who retired in February as Coordinator for Sanctions Policy at the State Department.
Fried told veteran investigative journalist Michael Isikoff, a former national investigative correspondent for NBC News and Newsweek alumnus, that in the early weeks of the administration he got several “panicky” calls from U.S. officials. They asked: “Please, my God, can’t you stop this?”
Thankfully, Trump couldn’t get the sanctions rescinded in a way that wouldn’t look too obvious in those early weeks. However, he continued to drag his feet on enforcement, and Congressional Republicans likely worried that, left up to Trump, he would rescind the sanctions entirely. Thus Congress codified the sanctions into law, the Senate voting 97-2 in favor of the sanctions. Even then, Trump said he opposed the law, threatened to veto the law, signed it with a statement saying he opposed it. Trump surely signed it only because an easy veto by that margin would be ruinous for his presidency. Apparently, Trump didn’t find opposing the sanctions on a country that worked to get him elected ruinous.
Yet, as we all know, just weeks ago, the deadline came due for Trump to begin the enforcement actions, and the administration STILL did nothing to penalize Russia:
The US has released a sweeping list of prominent Russian business and political figures, in defiance of Moscow and implementing a Congressional law designed to punish Russia for election meddling.
The US Treasury report, published shortly before a midnight deadline, listed every senior member of the political administration at the Kremlin, and every Russian oligarch with a net worth of $1 billion or more.Some of those named are already subject to US sanctions. But the administration stopped short of imposing any new punishments, saying the legislation was already doing its job. The report was “not a sanctions list,” it said.Instead, the Treasury report resembled an exercise in naming and shaming — putting individuals on notice that they may be subject to sanctions in the future.