‘US House & Senate at war with President Trump over foreign policy’
New anti-Russian sanctions were approved by the US Senate in a 97-2 vote on Tuesday. The measures target Russia's energy sector, individuals accused of cyberattacks, and companies supplying arms to the Assad government in Syria.
The bill also turns Obama-era sanctions against Russia into law. That means President Trump will not be able to rescind them without a vote in Congress.
RT: These sanctions would restrict the White House from easing sanctions without congressional approval. Do you see this as ironic, since Obama passed so many executive orders?
DM: I certainly think it is an attempt to strip the president of his legitimate constitutional foreign-policy making powers. I am certainly not one to cheer the executive branch practice of hogging power from the rest of the other two branches. But this is a case of a brazen grab. What is amazing, this is not a divided government. These are a Republican-controlled House and Senate at war with their own president, attacking his stated foreign policy, the centerpiece of his own policy as a candidate, i.e. improving relations with Russia. There is a deep, deep problem with the congressional Republicans on this.
RT: These sanctions are in relation to Moscow’s so-called interference in the 2016 US elections. Do we have any substantial to prove to back up these allegations?
DM: That is the amazing thing – if you say something, if you repeat a lie, or at least something non-proven often enough, apparently it’s supposed to become conventional wisdom, but nobody has yet said what the Russians actually did. Did they monitor the elections? Well every country monitors the elections of other countries. Did they actually do something to affect the results, or attempt to affect the results? Nobody has said that. The supposed 17 intelligence agencies that came to that conclusion – it is an absolute canard. It was at most – and [former CIA chief] John Brennan admitted this in May – at most it was three agencies, and it was not an international agency, intelligence community full assessment. It was, as he put it, ‘handpicked analysts’ who went through some of the data. And where does some of this data come from? It came from CrowdStrike – a discredited company with ties to the very biased anti-Russian Atlantic Council. They are the only organization that did the forensic analysis of the DNC computers. The FBI didn’t even have a chain of evidence control; they never even looked at the computers. So where is the evidence? I am willing to accept it, if there is some, but there hasn’t been any presented.
RT: Is this due to bipartisanship in Congress? It seems we have the NeverTrumpers, like Lindsey Graham, threatening the president basically to pass this or he’ll be ‘betraying democracy.’ What are your thoughts, shouldn’t we be focused more on fixing healthcare and passing tax reform at this point?
DM: This is certainly not what he [Trump] ran on. He almost ran on a non-interventionist foreign policy. At least he certainly seems to have borrowed some points form Ron Paul even. But the thing is now that he is in power – he has got to go down; he has got to go to the House, where these measures are slightly less popular than in the Senate. That is where sanctions will go to next. He needs to sit down with House Republicans and he needs to set them straight on this. They have to stop conceding this point of the Democrats that the Russians somehow put him into office, completely delegitimizing his presidency. He needs to find a way through the strength of his ability to persuade people to end this Republican-led congressional war on his foreign policy.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.