Archive for March, 2018

Better Late than Never: Trump’s New Sanctions Against Russia

Thursday, March 15th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

The Trump administration announced that the U.S. will impose “new economic sanctions on two-dozen Russian individuals and entities for cyberattacks in the U.S. and meddling in the 2016 election, senior national security officials said,” according to The Hill. The Treasury Department will “freeze the assets and prohibit Americans from doing business with the accused Russians.” Some of the fraudulent organizations have already been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

This week, Moscow has been accused by the British government as well as United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley for various alleged crimes. British Prime Minister Theresa May “expelled 23 Russian diplomats and the U.S. has signed on to a joint statement with its Western European allies slamming Russia for the ‘abhorrent’ attack and demanding accountability from Moscow.” Nikki Haley

The Treasury also “continues to pressure Russia for its ongoing efforts to destabilize Ukraine, occupy Crimea, meddle in elections, as well as for its endemic corruption and human rights abuses.” The Russian government has been described as “reckless” and “irresponsible” in regard to their use of a military-grade nerve agent “in attempt to murder two UK citizens.” However, the central message of the new sanctions is to stop Russian election meddling. Robert Mueller has already charged most of the individuals connected with setting up an interference campaign in the 2016 election. In addition, the Treasury Department has “targeted two Russian intelligence organizations in retaliation for what officials described as widespread and persistent cyberattacks.” Further, government officials believe the attack cost companies and individuals billions of dollars worldwide and “wreaked havoc on the global shipping trade.”

To appoint or not to appoint, that is the question

Thursday, March 8th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

Since President Trump took office, “more than 2,745 political appointees have joined the federal government…including at least 187 former lobbyists and also 125 people with ties to conservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, the records show,” according to The New York Times. ProPublica posted the records of federal employees online, which also offers a “comprehensive look at how Mr. Trump is influencing the direction of the federal government.

Trump has not only influence the trajectory of the government with high-level cabinet appointees, but he has also “rewarded people who have been loyal to him or share his priorities,” such as a recent college graduate who earned a job as an aide to the commerce secretary after working on Trump’s campaign in New York for a few months. However, Trump has yet to fill about 35 percent of the positions needing Senate confirmation. Unlike other presidents before him, President Trump did not arrive in Washington with a long list of political friends. Therefore, he’s bringing in like-minded people from other aspects of his life to fill the positions, so far. At the White House alone, almost 60 former campaign workers have been hired. Many of the other hires are former lobbyists who “recently lobbied the agencies where they now work.” To work in the agencies on the same issues they previously worked on, these former lobbyists must comply with guidelines and sign an ethics waiver.

While no comparative database exists, experts say that the Trump appointments stand out in comparison with previous presidents. Thomas E. Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution said, “overall, my reading is that the Trump political appointees have less expertise, in their respective areas, than any presidential administration dating back to at least the Reagan era.” Internal staff believes that the “administration had appointed well-qualified staff.” Executive agency staff who have worked in their positions through multiple administrations say that the new appointees have added value.