Trump’s Nightmare: Russia Sanctions, Mueller Investigations beyond 2018
President Donald Trump this morning reluctantly signed the bill sanctioning Vladimir Putin and Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
White House sources said he did so against his wishes, days after Congress overwhelmingly passed the bill. The president is also said to have called Vladimir Putin to inform him that he was going to sign the bill, moments before he did.
“While I favor tough measures to punish and deter aggressive and destabilizing behavior by Iran, North Korea, and Russia, this legislation is significantly flawed,” Trump said moments after signing the bill behind closed doors.
He faulted Congress for including “unconstitutional provisions” in the bill.
Congress “included a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions” in the bill, Trump said. He also claimed the bill “encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate” with other countries.
He then insulted the Republican controlled congress for failing to pass Obamacare repeal and replace healthcare bill.
“Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking,” Trump said.
The president boasted about his business background while further criticizing the bill which ties his hands and limits his ability to lift the sanctions imposed on Russia and Ukraine.
“I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars,” Trump said. “That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed Tuesday he and the president are “very unhappy” about “the action by the Congress to put these sanctions in place and the way they did.”
“We were clear that we didn’t think it was going to be helpful to our efforts, but that’s the decision they made,” the secretary said. “They made it in a very overwhelming way. I think the president accepts that.”
As if being forced to sign a bill that punishes his friend is not enough, special counsel Robert Mueller III Tuesday announced that he has added a former U.S. Justice Department senior lawyer with expertise in white-collar crimes to the list of attorneys and other officials investigating the Trump administration.
Trump is being investigated for firing former FBI director James Comey, his family’s finances, his business dealings and the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia during the 2016 elections.
Spokesman for special counsel Mueller, Josh Stueve confirmed the addition earlier Tuesday.
This is without doubt a nightmare for Trump and one he hoped to forestall when he fired James Comey earlier this year.
Experts believe that adding Greg Andres as the 16th lawyer on the Mueller team means the special counsel may have information indicating that white-collar crimes may have been committed by Trump, his family or those close to him.
Before joining the Mueller team, Andres was a white-collar criminal defense lawyer with New York law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell.
He is 50 years old and worked at the Justice Department from 2010 to 2012 as a deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division where he was in charge of the fraud unit team and managed the program that targeted illegal foreign bribery.
“Adding Mr. Andres show that Mueller does not believe he is anywhere near the end of the investigations,” a Democrat operative with knowledge of the investigations told The Liberal Advocate News on Tuesday.
“If the investigation stretches into 2018 and possibly 2020, it keeps the issue in the news and President Trump cannot be happy with that at all,” he added.
Robert Ray who succeeded Kenneth Starr as independent counsel for the Whitewater investigation during the Clinton administration told the media he believes the investigation will extend into 2018.
“It’s an indication that the investigation is going to extend well into 2018. Whether it extends beyond 2018 is an open question,” Ray said.
Mueller was appointed special counsel in May this year. Last month, he told the White House to preserve all materials pertaining to the June 2016 meeting that involved the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Earlier this week it was revealed that Donald Trump Jr.’s initial response about the meeting which was later proven to be a lie was dictated to him by President Donald Trump.
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