Trump Responds To Obama's Russian Sanctions: "Time To Move On"

In a relatively weak initial statement, president-elect Trump has rather diplomatically commented that:

"It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things.


Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation."

As The Hill reports, the statement did not define “this situation,” but the transition team earlier in the day had promised a response to the announced sanctions would be forthcoming.

Trump has repeatedly denied any Russian involvement in the hacks of the Democratic party that intelligence officials have said were an attempt to “interfere” in the U.S. election.


He has characterized any reports to that effect as an attempt by Democrats to delegitimize his election.

Trump's refusal to accept the IC's conclusions has put him at odds with congressional leaders in his own party, who largely praised the sanctions on Thursday.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called Obama's action "overdue" and "appropriate," though he slammed Obama as having an "ineffective foreign policy."


Ryan added that "Russia does not share America’s interests. In fact, it has consistently sought to undermine them, sowing dangerous instability around the world."


Trump has also faced scrutiny for declining some of the daily intelligence briefings normally given to incoming presidents.


"I'm, like, a smart person," the president-elect said during a recent interview. "I don't have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.”

As we noted earlier, Trump is relatively boxed in for now, so this initial statement is unsurprising...As's  Alexander Mercouris noted, like many of Obama’s other recent moves, this one is not really targeted at Russia.  The additional sanctions will hardly affect Russia, though the wholesale expulsion of Russian diplomats will undoubtedly complicate the work of Russian diplomatic missions in the US.

The true target of these sanctions is Donald Trump.


By imposing sanctions on Russia, Obama is lending the authority of the Presidency to the CIA’s claims of Russian hacking, daring Trump to deny their truth.


If Trump as President allows the sanctions to continue, he will be deemed to have accepted the CIA’s claims of Russian hacking as true. 


If Trump cancels the sanctions when he becomes President, he will be accused of being Russia’s stooge.


It is a well known lawyer’s trick, and Obama the former lawyer doubtless calculates that either way Trump’s legitimacy and authority as President will be damaged, with the insinuation that he owes his Presidency to the Russians now given extra force.


Like so many of Obama’s other moves in the last weeks of his Presidency, it is an ugly and small minded act, seeking to undermine his successor as President in a way that is completely contrary to US tradition.

Still, tomorrow will bring the bigger headlines as Putin lays out his response.


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