CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in an interview with the BBC on Monday that he expects Russia to try to meddle in the 2018 midterm elections. The director of the CIA expects Russia will try to meddle in the 2018 midterm elections:
“I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that,” Pompeo told BBC reporter Gordon Corera. “But I’m confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election (and) that we will push back in a way that is sufficiently robust that the impact they have on our election won’t be great.”
Pompeo also told the BBC that, despite some cooperation on anti-terrorism efforts, he views Russia as an adversary, stressing that they are still trying to influence the US and Europe.
Despite the fact that the U.S. is still under cyber war attacks from a hostile Russian government, Putin’s Puppet in the White House on Monday refused to impose new sanctions on Russia that Congress had overwhelmingly approved. Trump Administration Won’t Impose Sanctions on Buyers of Russian Arms:
The Trump administration announced Monday that it had decided against imposing any sanctions on countries that buy Russian military equipment, saying that a new law was already deterring billions of dollars in such purchases.
The law required that sanctions be imposed against large purchasers of Russian arms, but it granted exceptions for a variety of reasons. The administration explained the exceptions it was citing to members of Congress in a classified briefing on Monday.
“We estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions” since the enactment of the law in August, said Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman.
Defense deals are often years in the making, so last year’s law, called the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, is only just beginning to have an effect, an administration official said.
Congress overwhelmingly passed the law in response to intelligence that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election in the United States. But the legislation presented the Trump administration, which opposed its passage, with a conundrum because crucial American allies and partners, such as India, Turkey and some Eastern European members of NATO, continue to buy military equipment from Russia.
The administration’s rejection of sanctions on Monday disappointed critics, who worried about continued Russian influence.
Peter Harrell, a former sanctions official in the Obama administration, said that it was “clearly disappointing” that the Trump administration refused to impose sanctions “on the same day that C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo said that Russia will target the 2018 midterm elections.”
“If they want these sanctions to truly have a strong deterrent effect,” Mr. Harrell said, “they needed to release a stronger statement today, and they needed a few scapegoats to sanction to send a message that the administration is serious about enforcement.”
In opposing the sanctions law, the Trump administration argued that it needed flexibility to pursue a more collaborative diplomacy. But many members of Congress, worried about Mr. Trump’s apparent admiration for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, wanted to take away his power to suspend sanctions on his own.
Russia has an election coming up in March, and Trump’s pal Putin had his nominal political opponent arrested on Sunday, another reason to impose new sanctions against his autocratic criminal regime. Top Putin opponent urges Russia protesters to act ‘for yourself and your future’:
Russian police detained a top opponent of President Vladimir Putin today as thousands of people around the country protested against a lack of competition in presidential elections planned for this spring.
Alexey Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner who has become Russia’s most prominent critic of Putin, was seized and dragged violently into a van by police as he tried to join one of the protests that he had called for in central Moscow.
“I was detained,” Navalny tweeted in Russian from inside the police van. “It does not matter … You don’t go for me, but for yourself and your future.”
Navalny also tweeted a video of his arrest and photos from the protests.
Late on Sunday, Navalny tweeted he had been released by police without any charges being filed, but his lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, told Reuters that he would have to face court at a later date. Almost 300 people were reported to have also been detained during the protests, that nonetheless passed off with fewer arrests than at previous rallies.
The protests, which had been expected in 100 Russian cities, were called by Navalny after he was blocked from the election that is scheduled for March and in which Putin faces no substantial opposition.
In response, Navalny has called for a boycott of the vote. Today’s protests were meant to back the proposed boycott while also tapping into discontent around official corruption and economic malaise. The protests were the first major demonstrations since Russia’s election campaigning began.
People joined demonstrations from Murmansk in the far north of Russia to the port of Vladivostok, which is seven time zones away. Protests ranged in size from dozens to several hundred people.
In many locations, the protesters were braving blisteringly cold temperatures; one of the coldest sites was in the far eastern city of Yakutsk, where it was 49 degrees below zero.
At least 290 people were detained during the protests, according to OVD-Info, a group that monitors arrests.
The U.S. should be doing whatever it can to support the opposition to Putin’s autocratic criminal regime.
UPDATE: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), the ranking member on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said on Twitter this morning, “Congress voted 517-5 to impose sanctions on Russia. The President decides to ignore that law. Folks that is a constitutional crisis. There should be outrage in every corner of this country.”
UPDATE: The New York Times editorializes, Trump Gives Putin a Pass for Trashing American Democracy: “The bottom line: Mr. Trump has provided Mr. Putin with more reassurance that he has nothing to fear from the president of the United States as he undermines American democracy.”