Although Congress voted overwhelmingly last summer to impose harsh sanctions on Russia for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and other transgressions, the White House announced late Monday that it wouldn’t follow through with the punishment – even though the president had, however grudgingly, signed the sanction bill into law – ostensibly because the sanctions are working.
“Given the long time frames generally associated with major defense deals, the results of this effort are only beginning to become apparent,” Politico quoted a State Department spokesperson as saying. “From that perspective, if the law is working, sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent.”
A veto-proof majority in Congress passed Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act last July mandating the sanctions on Russia and eliminating the president’s ability to lift them unless lawmakers give their approval.
President Barack Obama already had closed Russia’s diplomatic properties in Maryland and New York and sent staff packing in 2016 as part of an initial, wide-ranging response to the nation-state’s meddling in the election in an effort to exert influence.
Trump in June was considering returning Russia’s diplomatic properties, but taking away diplomatic immunity on the properties if the properties are returned. Negotiations to give back the properties previously had been tied to Russia abandoning a freeze on the building of a U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg, but that contingency apparently was dropped, reports said.
Russian President Vladmir Putin countered the sanctions bill by booting 755 members of the U.S. diplomatic staff.
The Trump administration was supposed to enforce the legislation and impose sanctions by Monday.
The Trump administration was also slated to give Congress a list of oligarchs connected to Putin today but the White House didn’t confirm. Instead the State Department spokesperson said, “Further details are contained in a classified report we have submitted to Congress.”