Master Deal-Maker Trump Giving Russia Back Its Spy Mansions In Exchange For 'Nothing.' Does Nothing Work For You?
Perfect fixer-upper for young spy agency
Greatest Deal Maker on Earth Donald Trump is doing Russia another great big favor without asking anything in return. Imagine that! Back on December 29, 2016, when sane people were still temporarily in the White House, Barack Obama responded to Russia's interference with the 2016 election by throwing out 35 Russian diplomats and closing down two Russian compounds "suspected of" being used for espionage. So it should surprise absolutely nobody that the Trump administration is now preparing to let the Russians have the two luxury properties back, because that doesn't look hinky at all, does it?
Russia's poop has come home to roost.
Now -- thanks to an administration that leaks like the ceiling of a classic Georgian mansion that's been unoccupied for six months -- we learn that in April, the Trump administration proposed a trade to Moscow: They could re-occupy the two compounds, one in New York and one in Maryland, if Russia would allow the U.S. to build a new consulate in St. Petersburg. The construction permits for a new consulate were frozen by Russia in 2014 after the U.S. and Europe imposed sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine. Nyet, said the Russians. So the great negotiators of the USA said, oh, we will give Russia back its spy mansions without any pesky "consulate permits" in return.
Two days later, the U.S. position changed. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a meeting in Washington that the United States had dropped any linkage between the compounds and the consulate, according to several people with knowledge of the exchanges.
The State Department is saying that “the U.S. and Russia have reached no agreements,” and the next meeting between American and Russian diplomats will take place in June. The Russians won't be moving back into their properties -- which were purchased in the 1970s by the USSR then later transferred to the post-Soviet Russian government -- until the U.S. government decides whether to place restrictions on how the Russians use the places. Officially, they're supposed to be used for Russian diplomats' R & R, but Americans have long suspected the buildings housed intelligence operations, too. Sources told the Washington Post the administration might remove the properties' diplomatic immunity, which would allow U.S. law enforcement to enter them if spy stuff is expected. That's not definite, of course. Russia certainly wouldn't like it, so chances are good team Trump will comply with the usual Trump policy of giving the Russians everything they want.
In yet another fine example of the strategic understatement we've come to love in recent journalism about Trump and Russia, the Post notes,
Any concessions to Moscow could prove controversial while administration and former Trump campaign officials are under congressional and special counsel investigation for alleged ties to Russia.
Or as Vox cofounder Matt Yglesias put it a bit more directly:pooped on the carpet. While the threat of closing the two Russian compounds here wasn't pursued at the time, the discovery of the Russian hacks against the election was the last straw, so Obama threw the Russians out, probably with a certain degree of satisfaction:
“We had no intention of ever giving them back,” a former senior Obama official said of the compounds.
Trump, then at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, appeared to disparage the Obama administration sanctions, telling reporters, “I think we ought to get on with our lives.”
They're Russian dancing memes / They might be going to extremes / They've got confusing Cold War themes / Is it as clumsy as it seems?
It's more Trump contacts with Russia. Are we supposed to be concerned about that any more?
This turd's beyond polishing
Probably just because he wants world peace. You'd have to be some kind of crazy conspiracy theorist to think otherwise.
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