There’s nothing at all suspicious about this. Why do you ask?

There's nothing at all suspicious about this. Why do you ask?

by digby

The Trump administration really is slow-walking the Russia sanctions. I'm sure it's just a coincidence:

For months, a bipartisan group of senators has put pressure on the administration over its reluctance to move forward on enacting new sanctions against Russia. The law stipulating those sanctions—which President Trump was forced to sign in August after the legislation passed with overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate—has come under direct assault from the White House, dating back to the dog days of summer when it was first being crafted.

More recently, though, the Trump administration blew past an Oct. 1 deadline to issue guidance on how it would implement the sanctions, which will target individuals and entities in the Russian defense and intelligence sectors in retaliation for its election meddling and incursions into eastern Europe.

When lawmakers asked questions about the delay, they were left in the dark. It was only after Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) pressed Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan directly late last month during a phone call that the State Department belatedly issued guidance on how it would implement the sanctions—26 days after it was due. Corker—who has been locked in his own feuds and disagreements with Trump—got results. But it shouldn’t have even reached that point, lawmakers argue.

“I don’t accept the premise that the president can ignore Congress, and that we can’t enforce that,” Cardin said. “The president has a constitutional responsibility to carry out the laws that we pass. That’s a constitutional responsibility. And he’s violating the Constitution if he doesn’t carry it out.”

Yeah? Well, so what?

Cardin and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, have threatened procedural tactics including blocking Trump’s nominees to key foreign policy and national security positions. The reality, though, is that Congress is close to powerless in compelling the administration to act.

“While we may not be able to directly enforce it, I understand that we have limits as to how we can enforce. Congress doesn’t have a military that’s under our command,” Cardin added. “The president does. But we have purse strings that are under our command. And we could use that. We have a lot of power that we can exercise.”

That would require the cooperation of the Republicans. Good luck with that.

I wrote about this issue for Salon last week.