Obama boxes in Trump with sanctions on RussiaPosted: 2016-12-30
When President Obama ejected 35 Russian operatives from the U.S. and placed sanctions on two Russian intelligence services Thursday, it was more than just an effort to publicly rebuke Russia for meddling in the 2016 elections. It saddled the incoming Trump administration with anti-Russian policies that will force Trump’s team to actively engage the issue of Russian interference. David Sanger writes:
The sanctions were in part intended to box in President-elect Donald J. Trump. Mr. Trump has consistently cast doubt that the Russian government had anything to do with the hacking of the D.N.C. or other political institutions, saying American intelligence agencies could not be trusted and suggesting that the hacking could have been the work of a “400-pound guy” sitting in his bed.
Mr. Trump responded to the Russian sanctions by reiterating his call to “move on.” But he pledged to meet with intelligence officials.
Mr. Trump will now have to decide whether to lift the sanctions on the Russian intelligence agencies when he takes office next month, with Republicans in Congress among those calling for a public investigation into Russia’s actions. Should Mr. Trump do so, it would require him to effectively reject the findings of his intelligence agencies.
Doing so immediately, before GOP-led Congressional committees even have a chance to conduct inquiries would look also particularly disjointed for the incoming administration.
Notably, Trump’s team managed to issue an actual statement on the sanctions before Trump could pound out a text with his meaty little thumbs. Even though it urged “we ought to get on with our lives,” it showed more restraint than any of Trump’s recent text-plomacy and stopped short of totally rejecting Russia’s involvement, at least for now.