Perhaps before we exchange “Hail to the Chief” with “Troika, from the Lt. Kije Suite,” it would be nice for the Oval Office oaf to consider giving his NSA the word to DO something about the current Russian interference problem:
While Rogers pushed back on the notion that the administration has done nothing to counter Russian interference, he acknowledged that the response so far—which has included sanctions passed by Congress—has been insufficient in deterring such behavior. “They haven’t paid a price, at least, that has significantly changed their behavior,” Rogers said.
First, those sanctions passed by Congress on overwhelming (veto-proof) majorities, and signed into law (PL 115-44) last August 2nd, have not been implemented. Not only have those sanctions not been enforced, the rationale borders on bizarre.
“So to recap, the head of America’s foreign intelligence agency (Pompeo) is suggesting Russia will attempt to do what it did in the 2016 election again in 2018 and that he hasn’t “seen a significant decrease in their activity.” But then the State Department announces that it doesn’t need to impose the sanctions that were meant to punish that behavior because the legislation is already serving as a deterrent?” (January 30, 2018)
The administration’s insistence upon interpreting PL 115-44 as a “deterrent” rather than the punishment it was meant to be is reflected in Senator Dean Heller’s (R-NV) comments: “… the Administration announced that the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act is deterring malicious Russian behavior and new sanctions will not be imposed at this time.” And, he’s happy with that. To which we might ask: Deterring What? Both the NSA and the CIA are telling us the Russians are happily carrying on without a significant change in their nefarious behavior.
But the Treasury Department issued a list of possible Russian citizens who might be targeted — yes, and by all accounts the list was simply a compilation from Forbes Magazine’s list of rich Ruskies. A high school student with a tablet could have produced this! In a couple of minutes. Somehow this doesn’t inspire a surfeit of confidence on my part.
But wait, there’s more —
The Russians are also pleased to be violating the sanctions against North Korea. Their actions could be directly approved by Moscow or the product of profit keen oil dealers, or both, but either way the Russians have been ignoring maritime sanctions on oil. Surely the administration in D.C. would have something to say about this?
On Friday, the Trump administration issued a new set of sanctions that aimed to crack down on North Korea’s ability to profit from maritime activities. The new sanctions targeted one person, 27 companies and 28 vessels located or registered in countries such as China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tanzania and Panama, among others. The sanctions did not target Russia. [Newsweek]
The “sanctions did not target Russia.” It appears not only are we not imposing the sanctions enacted by Congress on Russia, we aren’t even imposing penalties on Russians for trading with North Korea. However, at present Senator Heller seems content to “monitor” the situation. At this juncture that could be tantamount to watching the bank robbers remove the safe deposit box contents in the hope they won’t take the loot out the door?
The administration’s various excuses for not only doing practically nothing about Russian interference, but doing even less to prevent further incursions, are becoming more tenuous by the day. Those explanations make less sense than the constant barrage of tweets about witch hunts, and other aspersions cast at the investigation of any and all suggestions of Russian activities against the interests of the United States. Each day passing offers both a challenge and a choice.
The challenge for Republicans in Congress is to maintain support for the White House without making the choice to be an enabler of extremely untoward conduct.
Senator Heller, and others of his party, are rapidly approaching the point at which their choice will serve to augment the attraction of their challengers.