Late last night the Trump Administration announced that it won’t be following the law directing it to enforce sanctions upon Russia for meddling in the 2016 elections. Reuters reports the administration’s statement :
“Today, we have informed Congress that this legislation and its implementation are deterring Russian defense sales,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. “Since the enactment of the … legislation, we estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions.” Seeking to press President Donald Trump to clamp down on Russia, the U.S. Congress voted nearly unanimously last year to pass a law setting sweeping new sanctions on Moscow. Trump, who wanted warmer ties with Moscow and had opposed the legislation as it worked its way through Congress, signed it reluctantly in August, just six months into his presidency.
President Obama originally imposed the sanctions upon Russia for both meddling in our election, and due to Russian aggression against the independent nation-state of the Ukraine. Congress voted to give the executive sanctions the force of law precisely because Congress feared that Trump would fail to continue enforcement. Now, it appears that even Congress cannot force Trump to do something against Russian interests. Trump answers to a higher power than Congress; Putin.
Recall the Republican reaction to President Obama’s decision to defer action on the Dreamers through DACA and the outcries that the action constituted subversion of the immigration laws passed during the Reagan administration. President Obama acted to protect children who came to this country through no decision of their own, merely taken by parents. All parties, even Trump, have stated support and agreement that Dreamers are Americans deserving protection. Yet Obama’s “Deferred Action” infuriated Republicans, it infuriated Republicans despite the fact that President Obama giving the Republican Congress fair warning. President Obama stated he wanted a law protecting Dreamers to follow, but if Congress refused to act within a year, he would act on his own to protect these American.
But, President Trump is ignoring a law passed— not during the Reagan administration — but just over four months ago, by a near unanimous Congress. and passed because Congress feared the sanctions would go ignored. Trump’s action doesn’t favor kids, he favors our greatest foreign adversary and world’s most powerful dictator, Putin. It also favors the man widely believed to control much of the money funneled through the Trump organization, and the man believed to have much more compromising material on Trump. As if the above were not enough, the Administration’s inaction also clears the road for the Russians to intensify their efforts to interfere on behalf of Republicans of 2018. Russians have no reason to believe they will face a penalty.
Trump had threatened to veto the sanctions bill at the time of its passage, but ultimately signed it. An override was a foregone conclusion. Trump did issue a signing statement disagreeing with the sanctions, but now it appears that the administration is content to decide on its own that the sanctions are not “necessary.”
Republican Senators pretend today to not understand how this could happen, from The Hill:
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Tuesday said it’s “perplexing” that the Trump administration opted to not implement additional sanctions on Russia for meddling in the 2016 election. “The one thing we know for sure already is the Russians did attempt to meddle in our election. And not only should there be a price to pay in terms of sanctions, but also we need to put safeguards in place right now for the elections for this year,” Collins said on CNN’s “New Day.”
Senator Collins might be one of my favorite Republican senators, but here she is being too cute by a half. There is nothing perplexing about this. Trump is not implementing the sanctions because Trump does not decide these issues, Putin decides which sanctions Putin will allow, or there would have been no need for Congress to enshrine the Obama sanctions into law. Sen. Collins knows exactly why Trump refuses to do this.
Equally so, Trump doesn’t believe that Russians should be punished for helping him get elected. Trump already called for Russian meddling by asking the Russians to hack into Clinton computers in an attempt to find those emails that never amounted to anything.
In normal times, such an overt, unapologetic refusal to follow the law could easily constitute an impeachable offense as an express violation of Trump’s oath of office, to “faithfully execute” the laws of the United States. The impeachment-worthy offense would be that much more compelling when linked to the likely “kompromat” that Putin holds over Trump, prohibiting Trump from imposing the sanctions. Of course, the American people would have known of such conflicts had Trump followed his predecessors’ actions in disclosing his taxes and divesting himself from financial vehicles susceptible to conflicts with the head of state, Trump chose to do neither, and here we are.
I encourage everyone here to re-post this article and the many other fine articles out today noting this “peculiar” inaction. The timing of the Nunes Memo and State of the Union have kept this brazen inaction off the headlines it normally would make. This is a stunning power grab every bit as important to the Trump-Russia question, the conflict, the collusion, the agreements made in the quid-pro-quo, as the memo, or any issue involving a FISA warrant. Next you encounter a cry of “HOAX” or “FAKE” it might be beneficial to ask why it is the Republican congress voted unanimously to take action, but Trump won’t take these actions to the detriment of Russia.
This is fascism and dictatorship in action. Our constitutional framework assumes that the president will enforce lass passed by Congress. If the executive believes he gets to choose which laws are “needed” versus which “are not” then there is no point in having a Congress. Moreover, if Trump has decided that a certain law is “not needed” and thus won’t be enforced, then how can the country have confidence that Trump will follow a Supreme Court ruling against it, if the administration believes the Supreme Court “misunderstood” the need or the issue, and the ruling is thus “not controlling.” This is fascism. The constitutional crises is upon us, failing to enforce laws against Russia, the firing of Yates, Comey, McCabe, possibly Rod Rosenstein, the Nunes Memo (a man investigated for mishandling FISA intel, a man who had to recuse himself for getting caught lying about the circumstances of his last stunt, and the man who joined the Trump transition team, a full “party member” loyal to Trump, not Congress), the flaunting of taking in money for exchange for access, it seems to never end. We passed out of the democratic-republic event horizon long ago into a lawless despot, it is all a matter of degree.
Pass the word far and wide. Trump cannot be controlled. Your Fox friends will not have heard about this decision. They need be protected from certain delicate truths. But, Trump cannot be allowed to hide from this unconstitutional and impeachable act.