Donald Trump’s White House is embroiled in an ever-deepening scandal with Russia that now includes the first concrete evidence of attempted collusion, but behind the scenes, the president is reportedly still pushing members of Congress to ease up the sanctions on Russia.
Last week, a report from the New York Times uncovered a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer reportedly promising compromising information on Hillary Clinton that had been obtained by the Russian government. On Tuesday, Trump Jr. posted copies of the email exchange that preceded the meeting in which an intermediary made it clear that the information was taken by Russia in an effort to help Trump win the election.
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” read the email (published by the New York Times).
While the email has led to sharp criticism from both sides of the aisle and likely accelerated the investigations into the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia, it has not deterred President Trump from pushing the members of Congress to water down a new set of sanctions against Russia.
A report from POLITICO noted that White House legislative director Marc Short was leading the push to water down the sanctions that passed by a vote of 97-2 in the Senate but have gone nowhere in the House of Representatives.
The sanctions would hit Russia’s defense and energy sectors, Think Progress noted, while also stripping Donald Trump of his ability to unilaterally lift the existing sanctions. There were reports that Trump attempted to lift Russian sanctions immediately after taking office, but stepped back from the plan after pushback from senior members of the State Department.
As the push to ease Russian sanctions continues from the White house, the trouble for Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign figures involved in the meeting — then-campaign manager Paul Manafort and key White House adviser Jared Kushner — could only be growing deeper. Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee have warned that there could be even more damaging information on Trump Jr. not yet released to the public.
If the House of Representatives were to pass the Russian sanctions, there may be little or nothing Donald Trump could do to stop it. The measure passed so overwhelmingly in the Senate that it would appear to have a veto-proof majority should it also pass the House.
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