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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Congresswoman Waters Introduces Legislation to Stop the Trump Administration from Weakening or Reversing Punishments on Russia

June 19, 2017
Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 19, 2017

Contact: Twaun Samuel or Rykia Dorsey

Phone: (202) 225-2201

 

Congresswoman Waters Introduces Legislation to Stop the Trump Administration from Weakening or Reversing Punishments on Russia

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of House Financial Services Committee, introduced two bills – the Freezing Russian Sanctions Act and the Deny Russian Access to Diplomatic Compounds Act – which, together, would prevent President Donald Trump’s Administration from weakening or reversing punishments imposed on Russia by the Obama Administration for interference in the 2016 election and for activities in Ukraine.

“Despite all that we continue to discover about the full scope of Russian efforts to undermine our democracy, the Trump Administration and those connected to it – many of whom have ties to Russia or pro-Russia forces in Ukraine – have been inexplicably focused on lifting sanctions and other punishments rightly imposed on Russia for their belligerent conduct toward the United States and other countries around the world,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters. “My legislation would forestall any efforts by this Administration to do so.”

In recent weeks, there have been multiple indications that the Trump Administration may be considering actions to weaken existing punishments on Russia. On May 25, 2017, Trump’s National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said the President is “looking at” changes to existing economic sanctions on Russia for its role in the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region. Similarly, on May 31, 2017, the Washington Post reported that the Trump Administration was moving toward restoring the Russian Government’s access to a 14-acre estate in New York and a 45-acre property in Maryland, both of which were believed to be used by Russia for intelligence purposes until they were ejected from the compounds in December 2016 by the Obama Administration as punishment for Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.[1]

As the Trump Administration considers taking action to reverse or lessen these punishments, many of Donald Trump’s associates and campaign operatives – such as his former campaign Foreign Policy Advisor Carter Page, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and son-in-law and Senior Advisor Jared Kushner – remain at the center of Justice Department and/or Congressional probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election. It is also worth noting that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who while previously serving as CEO of ExxonMobil, negotiated an agreement that could be worth millions of dollars if the U.S. sanctions against Russia are lifted. 

“Given all that we know about the Russian hacking, the question must be raised: why are so many people in this Administration trying to pay back the Kremlin?  Why does Donald Trump refuse to condemn or disavow in the harshest possible terms Putin’s aggressions in Ukraine and efforts to undermine democracies around the world?  While the Administration has struggled to find a legislative agenda, it has been uniquely consistent on attempting to appease Putin.  We need to keep a close eye on this Administration, and since we cannot trust that they will not lift Russian sanctions or weaken other punishments, there is a need for strong legislative action,” said Rep. Waters. “My legislation would strengthen Congress’ ability to enforce checks and balances on any attempts by the Trump Administration to circumvent or undo punishments on the Kremlin.”

A brief description of Congresswoman Waters’ legislation is below:

The Deny Russian Access to Diplomatic Compounds Act would codify the existing prohibition on the Russian Government’s access to, and use of, diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland.

The Freezing Russian Sanctions Act would freeze in place U.S. sanctions against Russia as of January 1, 2017. 

Earlier this year, Congresswoman Waters also introduced the “No Russia Exemptions for Oil Production Act” (the No REX Act), which prohibits the Trump Administration from providing special licenses to companies to engage in certain activities related to oil exploration and drilling in Russia.      

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