Well, there’s been yet another suspicious action from Donald Trump’s cabinet in relation to the Russians. A scathing report from Foreign Policy rightfully set forth a whirlwind of fury on Twitter and media venues when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson essentially benefited the Russian government with his actions.
Again, immediately after Trump got into office, his team secretly worked on trying to lift sanctions, w/o reason. pic.twitter.com/SQw7kBwmBy
— Lauren Werner ? (@LaurenWern) July 31, 2017
According to the report, Tillerson eliminated the office of the Coordinator for Sanctions Policy, an act that is a part of Tillerson’s larger plan to overhaul and reorganize the State Department. The “elimination of the sanctions coordinator appears to be part of the larger reorganization debacle underway at the State Department,” said spokesman for Senator Ben Cardin, Sean Bartlett.
Former diplomats and various congressional sources said that the sanctions office had been led by a long time ambassador-rank diplomat that had at least five staff. Now the responsibilities of many staffers fall under one man, deputy director of the Policy Planning Office David Tessler.
Foreign Policy reported that the Policy Planning Office previously “operated as a small team providing strategic advice to the secretary, but did not manage programs or initiatives.” The office has reportedly grown in power under Tillerson’s reimagining of the state department, eliminating numerous government jobs.
A spokeswoman from the State Department, Heather Nauert, defended the delay, stated in a press briefing “a lot of you had had questions about why the delay, why it’s taken a bit of time for the State Department to deliver this information to Congress, and that is because it’s complex, complicated, and industry needs to know what will happen if they engage in certain activities.”
Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow – if so, will he become my new best friend?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 19, 2013
The elimination of the sanctions office comes after the White House missed a crucial deadline on October 1 that, you guessed it, dealt with implementing sanctions against Russia. How convenient.
The bill was meant to force the Trump administration into punishing Russia for messing with the 2016 presidential election. Many legislators feared, and rightfully so, that Trump be far to easy on his friend Putin.
Two Senators openly criticized the Trump administration for failing to do its job. REPUBLICAN John McCain and DEMOCRAT Senator Ben Cardin released a joint statement reprimanding the president and his cabinet for missing the deadline and questioned their ability to fulfill their responsibilities.
The statement read: “The delay calls into question the Trump administration’s commitment to the sanctions bill which was signed into law more than two months ago, following months of public debate and negotiations in Congress. They’ve had plenty of time to get their act together.”
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) November 26, 2017
The Senators pointed out that members of both parties urged the administration to make good on setting sanctions. “In addition to the administration’s lack of responsiveness on this deadline, there does not appear to be a significant diplomatic effort to engage our allies in Europe and lead an effort to increase pressure on Moscow,” the pair stated. “Congressional intent was clear, reflected in the overwhelming bipartisan majority in favor of the legislation. ”
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) November 21, 2017
It should be noted that McCain and Cardin’s statement did not mince words about putting pressure on the Russian government, all of this amid accusations that the Trump administration has been colluding with Moscow. As the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin continue to amount, the delayed sanctions and further complications in delivering them seem to increase suspicion.
Featured Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.