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Treasury’s Steven Mnuchin defends US decision to lift sanctions on Russian firms

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin insisted on Thursday that the Trump administration would keep tight control on Russian companies linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, despite last month’s decision to ease restrictions on the firms.

“Treasury will be vigilant in ensuring that En+ and Rusal meet these commitments. If these companies fail to comply with the terms, they will face very real and swift consequences, including the reimposition of sanctions,” Mnuchin said in a statement released before a closed-door briefing for the House of Representatives.

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Democrats earlier this week asked Mnuchin to conduct a briefing for the entire chamber on the sanctions decision, one of their first actions since the party took control of the House last week.

The newly appointed Democratic leaders of seven House committees wrote to Mnuchin on Tuesday expressing concerns about the sanctions decision. They cited their committees’ responsibilities to conduct oversight of Russia’s attempts to interfere in U.S. elections and other “hostile actions.”

Mnuchin served as the national finance chairman for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Democrats have made clear they plan to investigate Russia and its possible links to the 2016 presidential election thoroughly now that they control one house of Congress.
Mnuchin had not been a focus of congressional probes.

In their letter, the committee chairmen and women also asked that implementation of the decision to ease the sanctions be postponed. There was no immediate indication that the administration would do so.

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The Treasury announced on Dec. 20 that it would lift sanctions imposed in April on the core businesses of Deripaska, including aluminum giant Rusal, its parent En+ and power firm EuroSibEnergo, watering down the toughest penalties imposed since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

The companies agreed to restructure to reduce Deripaska’s stakes and the oligarch remains on the sanctions list.

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“One of the goals of sanctions is to change behavior, and the proposed delistings of companies that Deripaska will no longer control show that sanctions can result in positive change,” Mnuchin said.

Lawmakers could try to pass a resolution of disapproval of the Treasury’s decisions, but its passage would require the approval of both the Democratic-majority House and the Senate, where President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans hold a majority of the seats and are unlikely to break with his policy.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Tim Ahmann; editing by James Dalgleish and Dan Grebler

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Trump blames market meltdown on ‘conspiracy of weenies’

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President Trump responded to a tanking stock market, a global economic slowdown and an inverted yield curve by suggesting there was a conspiracy by economists and the media to make him look bad.

Trump tried to blame this week’s stock market slide, which was triggered by worries of a coming recession, on the media.

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Fox’s Lou Dobbs: Man who plowed truck into ICE protesters is the real victim — and ‘well within his rights’

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Fox Business host Lou Dobbs praised a corrections officer who intentionally plowed his truck into a crowd of protesters outside a Rhode Island ICE facility, saying the attack was justified.

A correctional officer at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island, intentionally drove his pickup truck into protesters demonstrating against the detention of migrants by ICE on Wednesday, the Providence Journal reported. Capt. Thomas Woodworth was placed on administrative leave after protest organizers said a 64-year-old protester suffered internal bleeding and a broken leg in the attack and another protester was injured as well. Fellow corrections officers sprayed protesters with pepper spray, sending three other people to the hospital.

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Michael Moore breaks down why Trump is ‘scared’ of The Squad: ‘They’re the force out there!’

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Legendary filmmaker Michael Moore revealed why President Donald Trump is so scared of the women of color in Congress known as The Squad.

The Squad is made up of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

"So, Michael, when your political opposition tells you this is the play we’re going to run and the president underscores it, and they’re running this play, is there any — is The Squad blameless for giving the president a steady stream of oxygen and ammunition?" MSNBC's Brian Williams asked.

"I’m so glad he’s that frightened of them, both he and [Benjamin] Netanyahu are scared of them. And the reason they are is — and this is why Trump isn’t as dumb as he comes off," Moore said.

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