The electors set a record
Monday, 19 December, the electors voted for the President of the United States. Before the vote, us media pointed out that for the first time in many years, some electors may not vote for the winner of the presidential race in his state. Newspaper the Independent reported that to vote for another candidate, not trump may 30 delegates. According to the results of the elections became known that the winner of the state voted seven, and the greatest number of “apostates” were not Republicans, and the Democrats five. Instead of Trump on the voting results November 8, 306 electoral votes, he received two less — 304. His rival Hillary Clinton has missed five votes of the electors who voted for other candidates, writes The New York Times.
Congress approves the vote of January 6 and January 20 is assigned to the inauguration of the trump. After it, the Senate will begin to consider candidates for positions in the administration.
In January, Washington will begin to work not only a new President but also a renewed Congress, for which elections were held simultaneously with the presidential. The majority in the house of representatives and the Senate have preserved the Republican. In the lower house they control 241 out of 435 seats and the Senate with 52 of the 100 seats.
Trump received significant support from voters and the dominant position of his party in the legislative branch of government gives the elected President the freedom of action in domestic and foreign policy. An exception may be the question of relations with Russia and the lifting of sanctions, experts say.
The Russian question
Now in Congress in various stages of adoption are two bills which, if adopted, could complicate us-Russian relations. First, we are talking about the Law on defence funding in fiscal 2017 (the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017). It was approved by the two houses of Congress and should be signed by Obama before the end of 2016. The resource is govtrack.us predicts an extremely high degree of probability of its adoption — more than 90%.
Among other things, the Law prescribes the establishment of a Centre to counter the propaganda. As stated in the text, its main task will be to “guide and coordinate the actions of the Federal government on the identification, comprehension and disclosure of propaganda and disinformation of third States aimed at undermining the US interests in the sphere of national security”. The head of this Centre will be appointed by the President. The organization’s budget in 2017 will amount to $60 million to Russia directly in the part about the creation of the Center is not mentioned, but appears throughout the text of the draft law over 70 times. For comparison, China is only 30.
The author of the law became the Senator from Arizona — Republican John McCain, who in recent years has been one of the most consistent critics of the Russian government. He will continue to work in the new composition of Congress. If Obama signs the bill, the implementation of its provisions will deal with the administration of the trump. If the law is passed, the objects for study and counteraction will be Russian state media operating in the United States (for example, White House spokesman Josh earnest in mid-December called the RT “propaganda”.
The new administration will face another initiative of congressmen, the bill “Act on exploration in fiscal 2017-second year” (Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017). The act requires the establishment of a “Committee for countering active measures taken by the Russian Federation for the hidden impact on peoples and governments”. Among the active measures attributed to Russia are listed: the manipulation of the media, political murders and terrorist acts. The act proposes to tighten for Russian diplomats the rules of movement in the territory of the United States. Now to travel outside a 40 kilometer zone of the Russian diplomats in advance to notify the Department of state. The bill proposes to allow the diplomats to visit the Embassy or Consulate for distances exceeding 40 km, during a calendar quarter only if on the first day of that period or on the last day of the previous quarter the Director of the Federal Bureau of investigation (FBI) will confirm to the relevant committees of Congress that during the past period the Agency did not record any violations by diplomats, says TASS. The representative of the Russian foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova have already stated that in the case of the introduction of new restrictions, Moscow will take similar measures against American diplomats.
The house of representatives approved the bill on November 30, and the next day he entered the Senate, but the date of consideration of the upper chamber is not defined. The author of the bill Republican Congressman Devin nance. While Govtrack low the chances for the final bill — only 30%. Nans passed a bill for consideration by November 22 — after joined the transition team of the trump. On the transition team, he gives advice to the elected President on key appointments. The representative of the Nans — Jack Lenger — declined to comment .
In December, Moscow was visited by two former Advisor to the trump Jack Kingston and Carter page. Their visits were of a private nature, however, the American and world media assumed that they could informally discuss with the Russian officials and businessmen sanctions relief. Sanctions were imposed in 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine. The position of the trump sanctions is still unknown. In this case it would be in this matter decisive. Now sanctions against Russia are based on Executive orders President Obama says the U.S. attorney Jacobson Burton PLLC Doug Jacobson. Decrees are the legal basis for a number of decisions of the Department for control of foreign assets (OFAC), which are part of the U.S. Treasury and the Bureau of industry and security (BIS, part of the Ministry of trade).
Obama, then trump can at any time to cancel or modify the sanctions and decrees without the approval of Congress. However, some of the sanctions prescribed in the “Law on support of Ukraine” (UFSA), which was passed by Congress and signed by Obama in December 2014. The law obliged the President to impose a number of restrictions against Russian companies, including “Rosoboronexport”. Without the consent of Congress, the President can’t lift sanctions prescribed in this law.
The law allows the head of state and not to impose sanctions if it believes that such steps would be contrary to the national interest, draws the attention of Jacobson. In 2014, Obama chose this course, trump will have to decide whether or not to install new restrictions, says the lawyer. OFAC did not respond for request to comment on the legal status of the sanctions.
“The possibility of lifting sanctions against Russia”, — said the americanist, doctor of historical Sciences Ivan kurilla. According to him, the sectoral sanctions [restrictive measures against Russian oil and gas, financial and defense companies. — ed.] can still be suspended, especially if Russia makes steps towards a settlement of the conflict in Donbas, but the basic sanctions imposed over the annexation of Crimea, will not be removed. “Bargaining on this subject between Congress and the administration, I do not foresee, like new sanctions,” — said the expert.
“Maybe the management of trump and will not impose new sanctions, but in Congress there is broad consensus that before a few issues, they affected Russia and can influence in the future,” said The Washington Post on condition of anonymity, the assistant of one of the senators Democrats.
Yet to predict how the administration trump will be able to work with Congress prematurely, warns the Director of the conservative American research center for the National Interest Paul Saunders. He drew attention to the fact that Americans in recent years have begun to advocate for greater influence of Congress on foreign policy.
Trump led a campaign not as a typical representative of the Republican party, drew attention to Saunders. His attitude towards Russia was much softer than party members or the Democrats. Now in Washington there is a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, the Republicans for many years have criticized Democrats for a lack of a tough policy towards Russia, and with another — the Republicans do not want to disturb “their” President to normalize us-Russian relations. Democrats, on the contrary, after the scandals with the hacking of the servers of the party allegedly by Russian hackers, with the support of the Kremlin are set up for confrontation and accuse their Republican colleagues in excessive softness toward Russia.
“Trump will be able to establish relations with Congress: all the Republicans are interested to extract the maximum possible in a situation of control over the Executive and legislative branches of government,” — said kurilla. He believes that the conflict is elected President with Congress over foreign policy is unlikely. For this confrontation you need to trump began to take steps beyond the usual Republican paradigm or “something quite extraordinary”, he says.
The Case Of Rex
The trump candidates for positions in the administration, the greatest difficulty passing through the Senate may voznikat the candidate for the post of Secretary Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil many years. The company is heavily invested in Russia, Tillerson personally acquainted with the CEO of “Rosneft” Igor Sechin. In 2013, President Vladimir Putin awarded him the order of Friendship. Tillerson has repeatedly criticized the sanctions against Russia, and the Exxon has estimated the losses from them in the $1 billion John McCain and Republican Senator Marco Rubio have already expressed their concerns about the candidacy Tillerson.
However, even the controversial candidacy of the head of ExxonMobil unlikely to lead to a significant conflict of trump and Congress. Tillerson supported respected among Republicans, the former Secretary of state Condoleezza rice and former defense Secretary Robert gates. This is more than enough for his appointment as the Senate, says Saunders. Agree with him and kurilla, who noted that Tillerson is likely to find opposition from democratic senators for his work with the Russian government officials and businessmen. But even in this case, the deviation of the candidates Tillerson is unlikely, he said.