A new bipartisan bill that would impose new sanctions on Russia is being actively opposed by the Trump administration, even though experts are warning that the Kremlin intends to try and meddle in the 2020 U.S. election.
The Daily Beast reports:
“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.
“Sen. Lindsey Graham—usually a staunch ally of the White House—introduced the legislation earlier this year. 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 legislation, which Graham referred to as “the sanctions bill from hell,” would impose new economic pain on Russian oligarchs, the banking sector, the Russian ship-building industry, and some crude oil development projects, all of which could further destabilize the already shaky Russian economy.
But perhaps most notably considering that President Donald Trump made his money in real estate is a portion of the bill that specifically targets purchases of property in the United States:
“It would also aim to bring more transparency to purchases of high-end real estate, which many foreign nationals use to launder money into the U.S. And it would require that the State Department and the Intelligence Community report to Congress every 90 days on whether or not the Kremlin is meddling in U.S. elections.”
One line in the sanctions bill is clearly a warning shot meant to put Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence agencies on notice:
“The United States can apply much more economic pain using this powerful range of authorities–and the Administration will not hesitate to do so if Russia’s conduct does not demonstrably and significantly change.”
The Trump administration claims that the sanctions legislation is unneeded and would be impossible to implement or monitor:
The administration’s letter says it “strongly opposes” the bill unless it goes through a ton of changes. It argues the legislation is unnecessary and that it would harm America’s European allies–potentially fracturing transatlantic support for current U.S. sanctions on Russia. The bill “risks crippling the global energy, commodities, financial, and other markets,” the letter says, and would target “almost the entire range of foreign commercial activities with Russia.”
Refusing to support a sanctions bill right before the 2020 election should serve as a notice to every American that Donald Trump intends to urge his Kremlin backers to do whatever they want if it helps him win a second term in office.
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