As Trump Administration Spurns Russian Investigation, Congress and Republicans Take Tougher Line

Last Thursday President Trump tweeted a critical remark blaming Congress for allowing the U.S. to have an all-time and very dangerous low relationship with Russia and for not giving new U.S. healthcare.

President Trump tweeted, “Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!”

President Trump’s counselor Kelle Anne Conway admitted on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos aired on Sunday that the President’s Thursday tweet was in reference to the latest sanctions package that he reluctantly signed last Wednesday, with some criticism, that punishes Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

Conway said the entire Russia investigation is a hypothetical and explained President Trump called it a “fiction, a total fabrication to excuse the colossal and unexpected, unwanted defeat of Hillary Clinton during last year’s election.”

According to a new Quinnipiac poll published on August 2nd, fifty-eight percent of Americans believe President Trump has attempted to derail or obstruct the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

By a wide margin, 63 percent of American voters, believe the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), a member of the Intelligence and Armed Services Committee, said on CBS’s Face the Nation aired on Sunday that Russia remains an adversary to the U.S. and has a long history of using disinformation, deception, subterfuge, and espionage to influence Western democracies.

Sen. Cotton said that the U.S. has some overlapping interests with Russia and it would be better if the two countries had a better relationship but it is not good right now because of Vladimir Putin who stands accused of leading a Russian incursion into Ukraine, annexing Crimea in 2015, and building up military support for the Assad regime in Syria.

Signaling a hawkish tone, Sen. Cotton emphasized that there were steps that should have been taken under the Obama administration to confront Russia such as providing defense weaponry to Ukraine.

He encourages the Trump administration to take a look at those steps and said that there’s some other steps that can also be taken to strengthen NATO’s defenses against Russia.

Pointing out that Russia is conducting a major military exercise on their western border, on NATO’s eastern border, Sen. Cotton said he supports taking a tougher stance by adding more troops in Eastern Europe.

“I’ve long supported the efforts to send more of our troops to Eastern Europe to try to increase the permanent presence there, and to make it clear to Russia that we’ll stand by all of our allies, and they can’t take steps that will intimidate or interfere with NATO’s member countries” Sen. Cotton said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Besides dealing with Russia’s presence in Eastern Europe, the U.S. is also coming into contact with Russia as it attempts to defeat ISIS in Syria where Russia’s military has boosted support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Speaking at a White House special press briefing on August 4th, Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk said that about 45 percent of Raqqa, a ISIS stronghold, is now cleared because of some key changes that were made early on from President Trump’s initiatives.

“About six months ago, ISIS was planning major attacks in Raqqa. They were planning major attacks against the United States, against our partners, and they were doing it in Raqqa using infrastructure of a major city. Today in Raqqa, ISIS is fighting for every last block, and trying to defend blocks that they are about to lose,” said Special Presidential Brett McGurk.

McGurk estimates that there are about 2,000 ISIS fighters left in Raqqa and admitted they will most likely die there in a city with about 25,000 civilians on the ground.

McGurk noted that they caught ISIS by surprise and were able to cease Tabqa, Tabqa Dam, and the airport, west of Raqqa city, and saw ISIS go into a bit of a reeling effect after that.

“We saw a lot of their fighters trying to flee and their defenses in Raqqa begin to degrade a little bit. So it was a really critical operation, and it was done because authority’s been delegated down to seize opportunities like that” McGurk said.

On June 18th U.S. led coalition forces shot down a Syrian government airforce jet that U.S. Special Presidential Envoy McGurk said was done because they violated an agreement that they had on the ground of where they could go and where they could not go.

McGurk said that since the June 18th shooting incident they have drawn a deconfliction line with the Russians to accelerate the campaign in Raqqa and to notify where their forces will be and where our forces will be.

On July 9th in Hamburg, Germany on the sidelines of the G20 Summit meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Trump finalized a ceasefire that took effect on July 11th in southwest Syria between Russia, Jordan, and the U.S.

Written and Edited By:

John Schweitzer





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