Months ago, Congress passed a new sanctions bill against Russia in bipartisan and nearly unanimous fashion. Having no choice, Donald Trump reluctantly signed it. Today was the deadline for Trump to implement those sanctions. Instead he’s simply announced today that he won’t be implementing them. In any context, this would be a criminal act requiring immediate impeachment and trial. In the context of Trump and Russia, this is an act of treason which will cement his demise.
Trump has incredibly announced through a State Department spokesperson this evening that he won’t be implementing the tougher sanctions on Russia because the sanctions bill itself is enough of a “deterrent” (link). Trump has already been caught entering into a criminal conspiracy with the Russian government to rig the election, and it’s since become clear that his personal and financial allegiances are to the Kremlin, not to the United States. So what now?
The Republican majority in Congress has shown no interest in holding Trump accountable for any of his crimes. However, the GOP did enthusiastically pass this sanctions bill. That leaves the party in a tricky spot. Republican leaders in the House and Senate will face imminent and unceasing questions about how they’re going to respond to Trump’s illegal defiance of a bill that they passed and that he signed. Every Republican running for reelection in November will face nonstop questions about Trump’s criminal act on sanctions.
If Donald Trump’s approval rating falls into the twenties before November, the GOP could still decide to strategically move against Trump in a desperate effort at avoiding getting wiped out in the congressional elections. Either way, the Democrats are highly likely to take the majority in the House and Senate. After that, impeachment proceedings will begin immediately. It’s not clear that the charges against Trump will include treason, or the peacetime equivalent charge, conspiracy against the United States. Trump clearly fears retribution from Vladimir Putin more than he fears the strong likelihood that he’ll spend the rest of his life in a U.S. prison. He’s made his choice. So be it.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report