Trump Cornered: White House Pushing To Weaken Russia Sanctions Bill

After the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to implement new sanctions against Russia over "interference in the 2016 U.S. elections" and curbs President Trump’s power to ease penalties against Moscow in the future - without consultations with US allies in Europe -  President Trump has found himself cornered in what appears to be a lose-lose position.

On one hand, the bill prompted an unexpectedly angry response by Germany and Austria, both of whom who have invested hundreds of millions into the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would pump Russian gas to Germany beneath the Baltic Sea, and who said the bill is trying to help American natural gas suppliers at the expense of their Russian rivals. On Friday, Germany went so far as saying the bill "must not happen" with German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries saying "Berlin would have to think about counter-measures" if Trump - or the House - backed the plan. "If he does, we'll have to consider what we are going to do against it."

Nord Stream 2

Even the EU slammed the Senate's passage of the bill. According to Reuters, some European diplomats said they fear the threat of new measures out of Washington may harden Germany's defense of Nord Stream and complicate already difficult talks among EU nations over whether to seek joint talks with Russia over the pipeline. "This is not helpful now. It tends to stir up desires to protect our territorial space," one EU diplomat said.

On the other hand, any attempt by Trump to prevent the bill from passing - despite the outcry of America's closest allies in Europe - would be immediately seen as a further attempt by Trump to cede to his "Russian spy masters" and be immediately spun by the "objective" press as confirmation of leverage the Kremlin has over the president, who is already neck deep in allegations he has colluded with Russia.  

In other words, the outcome of the new Russian sanctions would force Trump in a position of choosing between an escalation of domestic attacks over his "allegiance" to Russia, or burning even more bridges with European allies such as Germany, Austria, France and other nations invested in Nord Stream 2, who have warned the US not to proceed with the sanctions.

On Saturday, it appeared that Trump appears to have chosen the latter option, because the "White House is expected to push House Republicans to change the Senate’s Russia sanctions bill to make it more friendly to Russia."

According to Politico, a senior administration official said that the White House is concerned that the bill will hurt U.S.-Russia relations and the administration is hoping to work with Republicans in the House to soften the bill. Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown told Politico that he has heard the Trump administration is asking House members to “slow and block” the legislation. “This is not something the administration is calling for us to do,” Brown said of the stronger sanctions, adding that he applauds "the courage of a number of my Republican colleagues who said no to the administration and did the right thing for the country to keep a foreign power out of our elections.”

Other democrats similarly chimed in: “I’m concerned about it, but I don’t really have the ability to dictate what the White House says to the House,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said in an interview. “I can’t imagine the House would want to be apologists for Russian behavior after the combined weight of the intelligence communities all weighing in saying, ‘Look, they attacked the United States’.” Rep. Krysten Sinema responded to the report in a tweet Saturday, urging the U.S. to hold Russia accountable with “strong sanctions.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared to express concern about the bill this week in a House Foreign Affairs hearing. "I would urge Congress to ensure any legislation allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions," he told lawmakers. Of course, Tillerson too is in the media's "pro-Russia" cross hairs, due to his friendly relationship with Putin during his tenure as Exxon CEO, and he knows it: should he push too hard to preserve relations with Russia - and Europe - on the level, a "Tillerson dossier" may just emerge next.

According to Politico, it’s so far unclear how the House GOP would receive any White House "entreaties to restore some of Trump’s power over sanctions that the Senate voted to claw back. House Republicans have started to review the Senate-passed bill and are likely to take it up in the coming weeks, according to an aide."

Sadly, the Politico article does not mention a key part of the story, namely the broad European outcry at the Senate's bill, a "minor detail" which has broad implications for US foreign policy, and which could quickly spill over into domestic politics. After all, should Europe burn bridges with the US and "retaliate" this time over an act of Senate which the White House was against, it will be used by the press to exhibit how clueless Trump's foreign policy is, even though the president was effectively entrapped by both Senate Democrats and Republicans into the current situation.

Of course, should Trump veto the vote, he will never hear the end of it.

A lose-lose situation.

* * *

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Russia's state news agency RIA reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed that the new sanctions under consideration would damage relations between the two countries, but it was too early to talk about retaliation. "This will, indeed, complicate Russia-American relations. I think this is harmful," Putin said according to Reuters adding he needed to see how the situation with sanctions evolved.

"That is why it is premature to speak publicly about our retaliatory actions," RIA quoted him as saying. Putin also said that Russia would be forced to make changes because of the sanctions, but they wouldn't lead to a "collapse."

Putin previously dismissed the proposed sanctions, saying they reflected an internal political struggle in the United States, and that Washington had always used such methods as a means of trying to contain Russia. Which, ironically, was a far more calm response than the one offered by US allies such as Germany who have made it clear in no uncertain terms that should the bill in its current format pass, they would retaliate.


scraping_by tmosley Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:33 Permalink

It's an interesting question on what the EU does for the American Empire. Are they the local viceroys over the Northern Vassal States? Just a talking pit for the Poodle Ranch? Certainly the ECB has a use destroying national governments and spreading undeserved misery among the common folk, but the EU itself?

In reply to by tmosley

greenskeeper carl The_Juggernaut Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:38 Permalink

You would. Trump should just sack up and do what he was elected to do. Normalize relations with russia so we don't wind up in another idiotic, no-win war. Just say what we all know - there is absolutely zero evidence that russia did anything, other than a 'trust us, it happened' from out 45 intelligence agencies, who apparently based all of this on the word of one guy from crowdstrike. Speak plainly, like he did the other day, and people will respond. Listen to Bannon.

In reply to by The_Juggernaut

DC Exile Give Me Some Truth Sat, 06/17/2017 - 23:49 Permalink

How the fuck did this bill even get to the floor? such an impingemnet on presidential perogative. Unless, "the Turtle Mr. Magoo" deep state whore McConnell is behind this.I had conjectured that Trump put RINO Mitch McConnell's wife Elaine Chao in his cabinet to have some leverage with the Senate Leader.What a joke.I realize the McConnell/Chao marriage is an "arrangement" to cover for his homosexuality and pedo inclination but c'mon Trump bash some heads together.His own Cabinet is against him. And has Trump forgotten the Art of the Deal?     

In reply to by Give Me Some Truth

mary mary Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:01 Permalink

During the 2016 GOP Presidential candidate debates, GOP candidate after GOP candidate boasted "I did more to hurt Planned Parenthood than you did".Now that MSM is targeting Russians, GOP Congresscritters are boasting,  "I did more to hurt Russians than you did".Pathetic third grade playground bullying.

greenskeeper carl I am a Man I a… Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:40 Permalink

True. Most sitting members of the senate have done FAR more damage to this country with their disasterous policies than anything the Russians could possibly do to us, short of launching nukes. Whats even more infuriating, most of them have gotta know that this is all fake news anyway, and yet they vote for it anyway, becuase the media demands it.

In reply to by I am a Man I a…

shovelhead Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:05 Permalink

President Trump...Use that Veto pen. You know you want to.Think of how much fun you'll have watching their heads explode. I'm getting giddy just thinking about it.

Nobodys Home Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:07 Permalink

"After the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to implement new sanctions against Russia over "interference in the 2016 U.S. elections" and curbs President Trump’s power to ease penalties against Moscow in the future - without consultations with US allies in Europe - "

Screw the globalist eurocucks and fvck these seditious senators and reps!

Remember...We here at ZH are all Russian agents purveying Russian propaganda!
Just ask Propornot (doesn't that sound Russian?..Propornot?)

Robert Trip Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:12 Permalink

Valuable lessons to be learned from the Fuhrer concerning people opposed to his policies and that were of the utmost benefit to the German people.Take a page from history President Trump and deal with these negative assholes swiftly and decisively.Germany drained it's swamp, now let's drain ours.

Trahald Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:18 Permalink

Sanctions are economic warfare; this is just another nail in the coffin of the American empire as more and more countries turn their backs on them.

VK Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:19 Permalink

A build up is under way near Donetsk and Lugansk by what can be described as Zio-con mercenaries. The last time there was a major undermining of Russia was during the Sochi games with the overthrow of the legitimate Ukrainian govt by Victoria Nuland and co. This time round we may see something very soon as the FIFA con-Federations cup is underway in Russia. The deep state should just dispel with the illusion of democracy seeing that the President is being hammered into a corner and can't seem to do anything.

messystateofaffairs BullionBlast Sat, 06/17/2017 - 19:37 Permalink

Martha Stewart isn't a Jew like Nuland. Jews are special. Stewart was a message to the goyim to that effect, the only goy that can make real money are the ones the Jews allow to. They like to target the Wall St. Indians as well. Bernie got his Jewish ass in jail only because he fucked Jews over, a big no no in the tribe. If he had fucked over only goyim he would have been a tribal hero.

In reply to by BullionBlast

scraping_by Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:26 Permalink

The Dems should be a little more careful about turning political smokescreens into reality. I'm think about Mike Huckabee, who won the Arkansas governorship by accusing Clinton of keeping a convicted rapist in prison past the standard parole date because it was Clinton's cousin who was the victim. Once in office, Huckabee politicked and pressured the parole board into letting the fellow free. After bare weeks out of prison, he went to southern Missouri and raped and murdered two women.Members of Congress have a lot less personal responsibility, being able to hide in groups. However, given their declining fortunes at the elections from their addiction to identity politics and their disinterest in economic justice, it would be a bad move to hang their names on a charade that the responsible adults might not be able to prevent sliding into real harm.

radbug Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:30 Permalink

One more step towards America being seen as that funny, unprofitable, country across the Atlantic. One more step down for the reserve status of the US dollar.

Hulk Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:49 Permalink

My God, Is there anyone , anywhere, who can simply state , "where is the fucking proof of Russian meddling ???"The Goddam Senate is as stupid as a box of rocks...and who the fuck cares what the dying main stream media thinks ???

artichoke Hulk Sat, 06/17/2017 - 18:08 Permalink

The Dems are like a gang of kids who picks out someone to pick on and says "Donny has cooties!"  Of course they're making it up, cooties don't exist, but they act like they mean it.If you're really good at it, you can grow up to be a Senator or Representative.

In reply to by Hulk

Vimes Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:59 Permalink

Fortunately almost nobody in the U.S. realise how close Russia really is for Europeans , how much we trade and have in common as a culture. Anti American sentiment has been growing for years and unfortunately it seems a point of no return has been reached. I  wish it wasn't so but alas, the people that control the U.S. are acting like they have lost control. Perhaps I have misread the situation, perhaps not.