Top Trump aide hints ‘disproportionate’ sanctions against Russia may be rolled back
Kellyanne Conway, President-elect Donald Trump’s former campaign manager and choice for White House counsel, is criticizing President Barack Obama’s “punitive” sanctions on Russia and vowing to reassess them after inauguration day.
In the wake of the intelligence report released Friday on alleged Russian hacking to sway the November election, the first woman to ever lead a successful presidential campaign told multiple media outlets that the report did not justify last month’s sanctions on four Kremlin officials and the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats.
“Here the punishment seemed to precede the full report,” Conway told USA Today in a Facebook Live interview Monday.
“There does seem to be a disproportionate response,” Conway said, adding, “I predict that President Trump will want to make sure our actions are proportionate to what’s occurred, based on what we know.”
Without providing evidence, US intelligence officials reiterated Friday that they had no doubt that Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized an “influence campaign” to sway the election in favor of Trump. Their report claimed that Russian hackers breached US institutions, including the Democratic National Committee and the emails of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, before passing along their findings to WikiLeaks.
Conway has also taken issue with the timeline of events surrounding the Obama administration’s allegations and response, raising questions about why intelligence about the alleged Russian hacking was leaked to certain press outlets ahead of Friday’s report or possibly even briefings to the president himself.
“The White House dodged the question whether the administration was the source of leaks to NBC News,” Conway said on Sunday in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“That should really infuriate Americans, that people who possess this information are sending it to the media ahead of the president-elect receiving this information, the vice president-elect and perhaps even the president himself,” she added.
Trump released a statement following Friday’s report, promising a plan from his team to strengthen US cybersecurity within the first 90 days of taking office.