It’s being reported this morning that Putin is very angry that the Treasury department released a list of Russian businessmen and oligarchs that are doing business with the Russian government:
NY POST – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday blasted the Trump administration for releasing a list of businessmen with links to the Kremlin, calling it a “hostile step” that harms relations between the two countries.
The Treasury Department late Monday released a list of 114 Russian politicians and 96 oligarchs who have thrived under Putin’s rule to fulfill a demand by Congress that the US punish Moscow for meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
“It is, of course, an unfriendly act. It will complicate the difficult situation Russian-American relations are already in, and of course harm international relations as a whole,” Putin said.
The so-called “Putin list” includes everyone in Putin’s administration and cabinet as well as top law enforcement officials, heads of the state-controlled companies and some of the country’s wealthiest individuals.
Russia will apparently hold off on retaliating, which probably has a lot to do with the Trump admin refusing to issue new sanctions:
He also said in an effort to improve relations with the US he would not take immediate action – at least not yet.
“We were waiting for this list, and I will not hide it, were ready to take retaliatory steps, serious ones, which would have reduced our relations to zero,” Putin said. “For now, we will refrain from these steps. But we will carefully watch how the situation develops.”
The list heightened concern in Russia that those on it would be hit with sanctions by the US or be blacklisted from the global economy.
But the Trump administration said it had decided not to punish anyone on the list.
State Department officials said that step wasn’t needed because the threat of penalties served as a deterrent and “sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed.”
We reported yesterday that the Trump administration refused to issue new sanctions to the people on this list at this time. I went back and reviewed the CNN article that we cited in our post, and CNN has completely rewritten it.
As best I can tell, the law didn’t actually force the Trump administration to issue new sanctions, but to consider it. As CNN now writes:
Earlier Monday, the Trump administration declined to impose sanctions against companies and foreign countries doing business with blacklisted Russian defense and intelligence entities, a consideration required by CAASTA.
The New York Times writes it a bit differently…
The law required that sanctions be imposed against large purchasers of Russian arms, but it granted exceptions for a variety of reasons. The administration explained the exceptions it was citing to members of Congress in a classified briefing on Monday.
That’s a bit more clearer than anything else I’ve read this morning. The law granted exceptions and the Trump administration apparently used those exceptions to keep from imposing new sanctions.
The point is that it doesn’t appear that Trump is actually violating the law he signed in August and thus there shouldn’t be any constitutional problem.
But that said, one might argue that Trump violated the ‘spirit’ of the law, as he clearly could have imposed new sanctions on these oligarchs if he wanted. And that choice is certainly one worthy of criticism. After all, that was the point of the legislation.