Why Trump’s Plan To Reverse Russian Hacking Sanctions Is A Big Deal
June 1, 2017
As Trump’s efforts to stonewall the FBI’s Russia investigation reached their peak with Comey’s firing, the Trump administration told Russia it was prepared to drop sanctions and get nothing in return.
Here’s the story:
- In December 2016, Obama responded to Russia’s interference in our election by imposing new sanctions, including the closing of two Russian compounds that were being used for “intelligence-related purposes” and which the administration never intended to give back.
- On the day Obama’s sanctions were announced, Michael Flynn spoke to Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak about the new sanctions, after which Russia broke with precedent and declined to retaliate.
- In early May 2017, an Obama administration holdover at the State Department met with Russian representatives and proposed returning the compounds in exchange for Moscow allowing work to proceed on a new consulate in St. Petersburg, where Russian spy equipment had made the previous U.S. facility unusable.
- Two days later, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson inexplicably reversed course and told Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador that the U.S. would return the compounds without any concession on the St. Petersburg consulate.
- Immediately after that meeting, Tillerson accompanied both Russian officials to a meeting with Trump in the Oval Office, where Trump bragged about firing FBI Director James Comey just the day before to ease the pressure of the Russia investigation