The Obama administration is retaliating against Russia for Sunday’s secession referendum in Crimea by rolling out financial sanctions against 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials.
Monday’s move would freeze any assets under U.S. jurisdiction and block those in the United States from doing business with or supporting the sanctioned individuals. A senior administration official said the Russian officials “played a leading role as an ideologist, strategist, or an architect of the referendum strategy.”
The Russian individuals are Vladislav Surkov, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin; Sergey Glazyev, a presidential adviser to Putin; Leonid Slutsky, state Duma deputy; Andrei Klishas, a member of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation; Valentina Matviyenko, head of the Federal Council; Dmitry Rogozin, deputy prime minister of Russia; and Yelena Mizulina, the state Duma deputy.
The administration also announced sanctions under an executive order signed earlier this month against four Ukrainian officials: Sergey Aksyonov, who says he is the prime minister of Crimea; Vladimir Konstantinov, the speaker of the Crimean parliament; Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of Ukrainian Choice — a pro-Russia organization; and Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted Ukrainian president.
Separately, the European Union is rolling out sanctions against 21 individuals, but that list hasn’t been made public yet.
Although Putin isn’t directly targeted — which a senior administration said would be “highly unusual” at the start of sanctions — the official said they “expect that these sanctions will be effective, and “¦ that they’ll be effective on a number of different levels.”
An administration official added that the sanctions target the wealth of “Russian government cronies.”
The sanctions announcement isn’t overly surprising. U.S. officials — including Secretary of State John Kerry — have long warned that if the referendum took place, sanctions would be rolled out.
And the increasing tensions between the United States and Russia aren’t likely to go away anytime soon. Putin is expected to use a speech Tuesday to seek a formal annexation of Crimea.
If Russia takes further steps, the officials said that the United States is prepared to expand its sanctions, but at the same time they said they are continuing to speak with their Russian counterparts to discuss if, and how, the situation can be resolved diplomatically.
What We're Following See More »
As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."