CNN has completely rewritten the article below that we cited in our original post. It now seems as though Trump didn’t actually violate the law, at least not technically.
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.
– – – – – Original Article – – – – –
This is just insane. Congress voted for sanctions against Russia in response to the interference (alleged if you like) in our elections, and Trump is refusing to impose them.
The Trump administration has declined to impose sanctions against companies and foreign countries doing business with blacklisted Russian defense and intelligence entities.
The administration was required by law to name the companies and individuals Monday, and possibly sanction them under a 2016 law meant to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 US election, as well as its human rights violations, annexation of Crimea and ongoing military operations in eastern Ukraine.
A State Department official said that the administration had decided to put foreign governments and private sector entities “on notice … that significant transactions with listed Russian entities will result in sanctions.”
“Sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent,” the official said.
CNN has learned that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed off this morning on the measures, due today under a law called the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,” or CAATSA. State Department officials also briefed senators earlier today.
So… Trump can just ignore legislation that the Congress votes on, and that he SIGNED?
That’s kind of a constitutional problem, right?
A clash between branches: Congress has enacted sanctions on Russia; the Trump administration is refusing to implement them. What happens now? Is the matter settled by the third branch, the courts?
— Jay Nordlinger (@jaynordlinger) January 30, 2018
Nah, nobody cares a damn.
As long as we’re “winning,” right. Who needs a Constitution? We have TRUMP!!!