Once again, it is time to “catch” up on recent developments in the ongoing Trump/Russia saga.
In a recent Daily Beast article, Congress Braces for Russia Sanctions Face-Off With White House as New Deadline Looms, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Ben Cardin (D), asserts:
“I don’t accept the premise that the president can ignore Congress, and that we can’t enforce that. The president has a constitutional responsibility to carry out the laws that we pass. That’s a constitutional responsibility. And he’s violating the Constitution if he doesn’t carry it out.”
Senator Cardin’s bold words center around the Trump administration’s ultra slow implementation of imposing the recently updated sanctions against Russia. The Trump regime failed to meet the initial deadline (01 October 2017). Nearly four weeks later, the administration would finally meet the initial deadline. Therefore, it seems that members of Congress are trying to be proactive in not allowing the administration to delay or ignore future deadlines.
A tale of two sanctions.
By comparison, the part of the new law that also imposed sanctions against Iran had no problem meeting the initial October 13, 2017, deadline. Evidently, these additional Iranian sanctions have created a delay of emergency humanitarian relief efforts to the country following a powerful November 12, 2017, earthquake.
Now, back to Russia.
How emboldened is Putin/Russia? Based on the past week, it looks like Putin led Russia must be feeling extremely confident. Consider after Putin met with Syria’s Assad, he immediately followed with over an hour long conversation with President Trump.
The White House release states:
“President Donald J. Trump today spoke with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for more than one hour. The presidents affirmed their support for the Joint Statement of the United States and the Russian Federation, issued at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit on November 11. Both presidents also stressed the importance of implementing U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254, and supporting the U.N.-led Geneva Process to peacefully resolve the Syrian civil war, end the humanitarian crisis, allow displaced Syrians to return home, and ensure the stability of a unified Syria free of malign intervention and terrorist safe havens.
The two presidents affirmed the importance of fighting terrorism together throughout the Middle East and Central Asia and agreed to explore ways to further cooperate in the fight against ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other terrorist organizations.
President Trump and President Putin also discussed how to implement a lasting peace in Ukraine, and the need to continue international pressure on North Korea to halt its nuclear weapon and missile programs.”
Despite the plan to “implement a lasting peace in Ukraine,” the European Union would blame Russia for the death of five Ukrainian troops killed in the eastern Ukraine. One must note that the deaths occurred two days after the Trump/Putin phone call. As noted, the call had been described by President Trump as a “great call” (Video of Trump’s statement provided by “RT” aka Russia Today).
All of these recent developments raise more questions about the Trump administration’s ties to Russia. Once again, it appears that Russia can do as it pleases without any pushback from the United States President. As a reminder, this is the same U.S. President that will attack or fight anyone–except Russia and Putin (plus, now one could add China to the list too).
Now, a look at other key developments.
in Diplomats Sound the Alarm as They Are Pushed Out in Droves article discusses the continuing gutting of the State Department under the leadership of Rex Tillerson.
The article notes that chief of security, Bill A. Miller, was “pushed out” after Tillerson “turned down repeated” and “urgent requests” to meet with Tillerson despite federal law granting Mr. Miller, as chief of security, “unrestricted access” to the Secretary of State, Mr. Tillerson.
The State Department developments under Rex Tillerson are important and worthy of concern to the U.S. National security. One must also note that Mr. Tillerson has a history of being closely connected and friendly with both Russia and Putin.
Wait there is more.
A McClatchy Exclusive: Manafort flight records show deeper Kremlin ties than previously known brings to light the extensive activity of Mr. Paul Manafort. In summation, Mr. Manafort was deeply allied to pro-Russian/pro-Putin associates. According to Daniel Fried, an official in the George W. Bush administration, the actions of Manafort can lead one to surmise:
“You can make a case that all along he …was either working principally for Moscow, or he was trying to play both sides against each other just to maximize his profits.”
Additionally, reports have indicated that Mr. Mike Flynn’s lawyers are no longer going to share information on the Mueller probe…not even with President Trump’s lawyers. What does this mean? To answer that question, let’s turn to Trump’s favorite platform, Twitter. In particular, let’s turn to a couple of tweets by a former U.S. ambassador (and a former government ethics lawyer):
I negotiated a cooperation deal for a target with Mueller's office when he was US Atty and lemme tell ya, he's not gonna give one to Flynn unless he implicates someone up the ladder. That means Kushner, Don Jr., or Big Daddy. They are all having indigestion tonight. https://t.co/8SNzelLuBp
— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) November 24, 2017
One more thing I learned about Mueller. When I was at State & he was at FBI we worked together on an investigation, & he loves surprises. Kushner, Donnie Jr. and the rest of the Trump crime family better keep their overnight bags handy. Pack shoes with no laces guys. https://t.co/oYOh9yIWBt
— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) November 24, 2017