The handling of the Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election has haunted Trump’s presidency even before he took the oath of office in January 2017.
Here are some examples of the many quotes supporting the findings of Russian election interference, taken from a July 2018 New York Times article (Note 1). The quotes even include one from Trump’s former national security advisor:
“Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.”
–Intelligence assessment by the CIA, National Security Agency, FBI, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence
“As you can see with the FBI indictment, the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain.”
–Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, Trump’s national security advisor (to April 2018)
“There is no doubt that Russia undertook an unprecedented effort to interfere with our 2016 elections.”
–Richard M. Burr, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee
“As I have said consistently, Russia attempted to interfere with the last election and continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day.”
–Christopher A. Wray, FBI director
Of course, we all know Trump constantly questioned Russia’s involvement. Several of his many “waffling” quotes:
“They said they think it’s Russia; I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. It could be other people also. There’s a lot of people out there.”
In July 2017, the Republican-controlled Congress passed new sanctions to punish Russia for interfering in the election. A brief breakdown of the bill follows (Note 2):
The bill applies sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, and it substantially reduces the President’s power to waive or ease certain sanctions without Congressional approval.
The Russian sanctions will target people and entities that:
— undermine US cybersecurity on behalf of the Russian government
— conduct “significant” transactions with Russian defense and intelligence agencies (this will come into effect six months from signing)
— commit, or assist in serious human rights abuses
— commit acts of “significant” corruption
The bill lists 12 types of sanctions that can be imposed and obliges the President to use at least five in many cases against those affected. They can include freezing assets, such as property, revoking US visas and banning exports from the United States to those sanctioned. (Note 2)
The bill included a provision that gave Trump six months to decide whether he wanted to add new sanctions against Russia.
While the bill was still working its way through Congress, the Trump administration refused to say whether he would sign it if it reached his desk (Note 3). After the bill was passed, Trump did sign it but heavily criticized it even as he was signing it. Trump also said the threat of sanctions was enough of a deterrent. A congressman pointed out that a “deterrent” didn’t make sense as the incident in question (the election interference) had already occurred (Note 4).
So Trump in substance to date has not enacted any aspect of the law passed by Congress, and supported by virtually everyone but Trump. His signing of the bill was a meaningless gesture on his part. Russia, to this day, remains unpunished for their election influence.
Note 1: Yourish, Karen, and Troy Griggs. “8 U.S. Intelligence Groups Blame Russia For Meddling, But Trump Keeps Clouding The Picture”. Nytimes.Com, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/07/16/us/elections/russian-interference-statements-comments.html
Note 2: Angela Dewan, CNN. “Russia Sanctions: What You Need To Know”. CNN, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/ampstories/world/russia-sanctions-what-you-need-to-know
Note 3: Andrews, Natalie. “U.S. Lawmakers Reach Deal On New Sanctions Against Russia”. WSJ, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-lawmakers-reach-deal-on-new-sanctions-against-russia-1500761321?mod=article_inline
Note 4:”Donald Trump Refuses To Impose New Sanctions On Russia”. The Independent, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-russia-sanctions-trump-no-new-congress-law-election-hacking-intervention-putin-kremlin-a8184866.html