President Donald Trump’s administration was defending Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime one day before Congress began debating impeachment, The Daily Beast reported Wednesday.
“The Trump administration is quietly fighting a new package of sanctions on Russia, The Daily Beast has learned. A Trump State Department official sent a 22-page letter to a top Senate chairman on Tuesday making a wide-ranging case against a new sanctions bill,” Betsy Woodruff Swan reports.
The legislation in question was sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and is titled the “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2019” or DASKA.
“It’s designed to punish Russian individuals and companies over the Kremlin’s targeting of Ukraine, as well as its 2016 election interference in the U.S., its activities in Syria, and its attacks on dissidents,” The Beast explained. “Graham said the legislation’s aggressiveness means it is ‘the sanctions bill from hell,’ per Yahoo Finance. “Trump World, meanwhile, says it is a mess.”
“The administration shares the goal of deterring and countering Russian subversion and aggression,” the letter argued. “However, the Administration strongly opposes this bill in its current form for the reasons detailed below.”
Following the letter, five Republican senators opposed the bill during a Wednesday vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: Chairman Jim Risch (R-WI), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Johnny Isacson (R-GA), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).
The bill passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee, but it is unclear whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will bring it to the floor for a vote. The Kentucky senator has been nicknamed “Moscow Mitch” for his support of policies supported by Putin.
One of the administration’s complaints was the requirement to certify Russia was no longer interfering with U.S. elections. The administration also complained about a lack of flexibility for the administration to “waive” the sanctions.
Read the full report.