Weird, Senate Doesn't Trust Trump On Russia Sanctions. Did We Mention, 'Weird'?
If we learned anything from Jeff Sessions's testimony Tuesday, it's that Senate Republicans do not want to hear about contacts between the Trump campaign and their bestest Eastern European buddies. Who could possibly think that Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner tried to shake down the Russians in exchange for getting sanctions lifted? These are scurrilous allegations, disproved by mountains of evidence. To wit:
- Tom Cotton knew Jason Bourne, Sir. And Jefferson Hushpuppy Sessions is no Jason Bourne!
- No one has ever seen Jeff Sessions and Sergei Kislyak do more than heavy petting during the slow dances, so don't even try to say that Sessions is the babydaddy.
- If the glove does not fit, you must acquit.
But going forward, they'd like it if Donald Trump didn't give away the whole store please and thank you! Which is why 97 Senators voted yesterday to take away the president's power to remove sanctions on Russia. They're behind the president 100%! They just don't trust him to conduct foreign policy with Russia for some reason.
Also, too, if Jared Kushner can't deliver on his promise to get those Russian bankers back into the American market, then it's like there was no collusion at all! ALLEGEDLY. So, no harm no foul, right?
Meanwhile, back at the State Department...
Trumpland's first order of State Department business was to roll back sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine and trying to hack the American election. As Yahoo reported,
career State Department employees deep state Obama holdovers were holyfuckingshit HAIR ON FIRE in January at the Trump administration's 180 on longstanding American foreign policy.
“There was serious consideration by the White House to unilaterally rescind the sanctions,” said Dan Fried, a veteran State Department official who served as chief U.S. coordinator for sanctions policy until he retired in late February. He said in the first few weeks of the administration, he received several “panicky” calls from U.S. government officials who told him they had been directed to develop a sanctions-lifting package and imploring him, “Please, my God, can’t you stop this?”
Fried said he grew so concerned that he contacted Capitol Hill allies — including Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the ranking minority member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — to urge them to move quickly to pass legislation that would “codify” the sanctions in place, making it difficult for President Trump to remove them.
There's no percentage for Republicans in delegitimizing Trump's win. But Old Butterscotch Farts McCain is planning to serve another three terms at least, and he'd appreciate it if Russian hackers stayed out of the Arizona ballot box. And Trumpland planting a giant, wet kiss on Vladimir Putin's ass isn't much of a deterrent. Which is why Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Ben Cardin proposed a bill on February 7 to lock existing sanctions into place so the president couldn't unilaterally rescind them. Senate Republicans were initially tepid on the bill, waiting to see whether Rex Tillerson would staff up and maybe start doing a little foreign policy work. But then...
President Trump, Master Dealmaker
Perfect fixer-upper for young spy agency
Last December, the Obama administration confiscated two Russian-owned compounds in response to Russian electoral hacking. The State Department had claimed that the properties in rural New York and Maryland were used for espionage activities. But on June 1, the Trump administration returned the two "vacation houses" so that the Russian embassy staff could get back to their vital mission of "rest and relaxation" in the American countryside. At the outset, negotiations for return of the properties had been tied to construction of a new US consulate in St. Petersburg, which is currently being blocked by the Kremlin. But then President Trump negotiated an even better deal. He'd give the Russians back their dachas in exchange for NOTHING AT ALL. He really is a master negotiator!
Oh, Heyyyy Rex Tillerson, recipient of the Russian Order of Friendship!
Back in February, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker opposed the bill to lock in sanctions on Russia. But shortly after the president decided to return the dachas, Corker had a miraculous change of heart! As reported in the Washington Post:
“I wanted to give [Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson until two weeks ago,” Corker said, adding, “I’ve been ready the whole time.”
When asked whether the White House was on board with the measure, Corker hesitated, noting: “I have to believe that the administration has to at least strongly consider supporting this.”
He added, however, that he was sure the measure could receive a veto-proof level of support in the Senate.
In fact, Rex Tillerson is not down with the Senate's bill.
“We would ask for the flexibility to turn the heat up when we need to, but also to ensure that we have the ability to maintain a constructive dialogue,” Tillerson said in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“I certainly agree with the sentiment that has been conveyed by several members from both parties that Russia must be held accountable for its meddling in U.S. elections,” Tillerson said, adding that he agrees Russia did attempt to interfere.
But Tillerson also said his mandate is to try to improve U.S. relations with Russia in ways that would benefit the United States, and he suggested that the new penalties may get in the way.
Rex Tillerson knows that American interests are best served by giving Donald Trump wide latitude to work his dealmaking magic with our great Russian allies. The Senate wouldn't trust that slippery idiot with their lunch order though. Republicans may be singularly uncurious about pee orgies, sanctions, collusion and back channels -- that's all in the past. But they're taking away Poppy's car keys rightfuckingnow before Trump announces that he's made a grand bargain to open a Russian embassy in the Old Executive Office Building. Let's see if those gutless wonders in the House follow suit. Your move, Paul Ryan!
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.