Congress ratifies Deep State manuever to limit President Trump
The House and Senate have reached an agreement on new sanctions on Russia. The bill will be sent to the president sometime this summer, at which point Trump will have to decide if imposing new restrictions on Russia will interfere with his administration's diplomacy.
In addition to the new sanctions on Russia for its interference in the U.S. 2016 election and its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, the bill also gives Congress the power to review any effort by the Trump administration to ease or end sanctions against Moscow.
The bill also includes stiff economic penalties against Iran and North Korea.
"The legislation ensures that both the majority and minority [parties] are able to exercise our oversight role over the administration's implementation of sanctions," said Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the number-two House Democrat.
The deal on the legislation comes amid concerns expressed by both Democrats and some Republicans that the Trump administration may be considering returning to Russian control two compounds in Maryland and New York that were seized by the Obama administration in December as punishment for the election meddling.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, announced Saturday morning that a vote on the bill -- the Russia, Iran and North Korea Sanctions Act -- will take place Tuesday.
He tweeted that the bill sends a message to countries that "threaten America and our interests."
Giving Congress a veto over whether the administration wants to ease or end sanctions against Moscow grew out of an unconfirmed report last spring that the Trump administration was looking at unilaterally easing the sanctions. At the time - in January immediately before the president took office - the administration was reviewing all sanctions imposed against every country - not just Russia. But some bedwetters at the State Department, looking to fan the flames of the Trump-Russia narrative, went to Congress and sounded the alarm.
So Congress has pre-empted the president in deciding if easing sanctions or ending them would be diplomatically sound. President Obama eased sanctions on Iran without going to Congress, but apparently, Trump is different.
Outside of that, are new sanctions a good idea? The Russians have actually been behaving themselves in Ukraine - mostly respecting the cease fire and restraining their rebel proxies. And in Syria, after killing thousands of civilians, the Russians have dialed back their bombing campaign and established "safe zones" for civilians in consultation with the rebels.
This by no means indicates that Putin is done meddling in the Ukraine or becoming a responsible citizen in Syria. But it leaves the issue of Russia hacking the emails of the DNC and probably John Podesta which caused problems for the Democrats.
"Hacking the election" is a misnomer. Revealing embarrassing information about the Democratic party is not the same as "stealing" or "hacking" the election itself. If the Russian government was behind the hacks, they certainly deserve to be sanctioned. But the only question that matters should be, will the sanctions interfere with the administration's diplomatic efforts to bring about closer cooperation between Russia and the US?
That is the question facing President Trump. Of course, the political question is unavoidable. If Trump refuses to sign a sanctions bill, the media will hit the roof, claiming more evidence of "collusion." Trump should ignore that kind of noise and decide on the basis of US interests, and nothing more.