Trump Says He’ll Repeal Russia Sanctions If They’re “Doing Really Great Things”

Donald Trump has no sense of shame or caution.

As the allegations of direct Russian interference in the election continue to swirl around him, Trump isn’t just misrepresenting and slamming American intelligence officials. He is refusing to even step back from policy that would open him to direct accusations of quid-pro-quo policy favoring Russia:

President-elect Donald Trump suggested Friday he is open to lifting sanctions on Russia, though he plans to keep them for “at least a period of time.”

He told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published Friday evening that he might do away with them if Russia helps the US battle terrorists or with other goals important to the US. The sanctions were implemented by the Obama administration last month in response to alleged Russian hacking during the election.

“If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?” he said in the interview.

 Keep in mind that Putin has persistently claimed that Russia’s actions to benefit Assad have simply been in the name of fighting terrorism, and that Trump doesn’t actually have a plan to deal with ISIS. In other words, Russia could simply do nothing beyond what it’s already doing and qualify under these terms for lifting of sanctions without changing its policy on Ukraine or Crimea, to say nothing of ending interference in foreign elections.
Trump is signaling that he fully intends to reward Putin for his help in electing him, and that he intends to do “really great things” with Russia. He doesn’t care how it looks, or what the consequences might be at a geopolitical level for the world, or even at a simple electoral level for the GOP when the Democrats use this issue as a cudgel in 2018 and 2020. This is reckless shamelessness.
I know it doesn’t seem like there are any consequences to all of this, and that Trump can simply do whatever he wants. But that’s not really true. He lost by 2.8 million votes, the American people already have a historically low opinion of his transition and of him personally, and this sort of behavior is only going to make it worse. An unpopular president can’t get much done, and Congress will be wary of working with him to save their own skins.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.