Top Dem to propose bill to hamstring Trump in relaxing sanctions on Russia with GOP wingmen
President Donald Trump’s cautious statements about the desirability of working towards rapprochement with Moscow, which could include easing economic sanctions on Russia, have not gone unnoticed by some in the US establishment.
Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said on Sunday that a bipartisan group of US Senators was preparing to introduce a bill that would significantly restrict the president’s ability to lift the sanctions that Washington imposed on Russia in 2014 after Crimea voted to leave Ukraine and rejoin it in a referendum.
The bill would demand that any changes to the restrictions be put to a vote in the US Congress, thus preventing the president from acting unilaterally.
“We repeal sanctions, it tells Russia, ‘Go ahead and interfere in our elections and do bad things;’ it tells China; it tells Iran. That would be terrible,” Schumer told ABC’s This Week show, adding that he has secured support from GOP Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
“We need more sanctions against Russia. We should not relax them,” McCain said on the same program, adding “if we don’t keep those sanctions on and even increase them, it will encourage Vladimir Putin, who is a war criminal."
Earlier in January, Trump floated the idea of lifting the sanctions as part of a new nuclear weapons reduction deal.
“For us to repeal sanctions, given what Russia has done in Ukraine and threatened the Baltics, and now they have clearly tried to intervene in our election – whether it had an effect or not – that is something, that’s a danger that we have never faced to this extent in American history,” Schumer went on.
However, Gregory Copley, editor-in-chief of the Defense & Foreign Affairs journal, told RT that the bill was surely designed “as a part of the legacy that the then-president Obama wanted to leave for President Trump.”
“[Obama] wanted to make sure that he had grave difficulty in maintaining any normal strategic policy at all and particularly with regard to Russia. So he left that time bomb if you like,” Copley asserted.
Allegations that Russia interfered in the US elections are unsubstantiated, the expert continued, while noting that Washington itself has waged “political warfare” against other countries in the past.
“There’s a lot of material around to show that the Obama administration interfered with the election processes in Ukraine, in Israel and in other countries,” he said.
“Schumer himself is a rabid, and I use this word advisedly, rabid, political advocate concerned only with domestic political outcomes. He’s certainly not looking at the strategic picture, he’s absolutely trying to undermine the Trump administration,” Copley concluded.