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GOP Lawmakers Return From Moscow With a New Point of View

Senator Ron Johnson questions the logic of continued sanctions against Russia.

Why did a group of GOP lawmakers spend the Independence Day holiday huddled with Russian officials in Moscow?

Presumably, this was to lay the groundwork for President Trump’s upcoming Helsinki, Finland summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin, himself, was not present at the meetings, but the lawmakers returned to the states, prepared to pave the way for a strengthened Russia on the world stage.

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Senator Ron Johnson discussed the change of heart.

“You do something and nobody ever sits back and analyzes, 'Well, is it working?’” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., told the Washington Examiner. “And I think you'd be hard-pressed to say that sanctions against Russia are really working all that well.”

“I've always been concerned about the double-edged sword of economic sanctions can be used by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to blame America for any lack of economic progress — but again, on the ground, they don't seem to be having a real horrible economic effect, not in Moscow anyway,” said Johnson, who also chairs the Foreign Relations subcommittee for Europe.

What Senator Johnson would prefer is that the U.S. target Putin’s allies and the oligarchs that surround him.

“They would love individuals who are sanctioned to have those sanctions released so they can start traveling around again,” Johnson said. “They do sting.”

“My sense is that the targeted sanctions to the oligarchs, to the members of government, are the ones that really sting and probably [offer] the best chance of affecting their behavior," he said. "The Russian people, they don't care if an oligarch can't buy a $10 million mansion in London.”

Johnson is in an odd position. He wants to build up friendship with Russia (as seems to be the marching orders for all those operating under Trump), but how do you do that and not appear weak? Weakness is what the former KGB agent (Putin) is looking for, and he’ll suss out that weakness in the private, one-on-one meeting that is planned between he and President Trump before the July 16 summit.

“When ruthless, strong people perceive weakness, they pounce,” said Johnson, who chairs the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. “Russia wants to reconstitute, basically, its sphere of influence that they had in the Soviet Union. So, you understand that, and if you don’t want to let that happen, you’ve got to push back with strength and resolve … but that doesn’t mean that we have to be enemies.”

Not enemies, but not suckers, either.

The U.S. has issued sanctions against Russia for several reasons. For starters, the 2014 annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine. Those aggressive, destabilizing moves were met with sanctions against Russia’s banking and energy sectors.

Also, after it was discovered that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election, President Obama expelled a number of Russian diplomats and intelligence officials.

Months later, lawmakers passed a broad package to codify those sanctions in law and mandate additional punishment for the Ukraine and election controversies, as well as Putin’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Disturbingly, the GOP with Donald Trump as the face began by softening the language towards Russia in the GOP platform at the 2016 RNC Convention.

Trump, as president, has been equally reluctant to call out our greatest geopolitical foes, openly courting Putin, while dragging his feet about implementing sanctions.

And now, this.

After a couple of days in Moscow, Johnson feels we may have acted hastily.

“I've been pretty upfront that the election interference — as serious as that was, and unacceptable — is not the greatest threat to our democracy,” he said. “We've blown it way out of proportion — [as if it's] the greatest threat to democracy ... We need to really honestly assess what actually happened, what effect did it have, and what effect are our sanctions actually having, positively and negatively.”

In those meetings, Johnson says they talked about the 2016 election interference, condemned the release of hacked DNC emails, only to have the Russian officials push back and accuse the U.S. of similar behavior.

“We would bring it up, and they would push back with all the ways we interfere with their politics in terms of funding of NGOs, and Radio Free Europe and Voice of America," Johnson said. "We pushed back hard. I think they're certainly on notice that there should be no meddling in 2018.”

That debate dominated the roughly five hours of meetings scheduled during the trip. “Nobody yielded,” he said.

Yeah. I’m sure you guys totally put them on notice.

Pretty much the entire Republican Operating Party has folded to Everything Trump. I feel like an outcast on the Planet, because I trust NOTHING that Donald Trump says or does, or proposes. I cannot believe that even Erick seems to agree with certain aspects of his Presidency.

I am distressed to no end that the majority of people seem to have abandoned their free will and have acquiesced to the 'Binary Choice' straight jacket and refuse to overthrow both major political parties.

To make nice to Putin is to make nice to a Scorpion.

3

@DLC That's where you're wrong. I will explain how I am the one who is correct and you are just braying into the wind. Screaming like Hillary. You're all losing to me and to the forces of MAGA.

If I fart into the wind you should take note because you are about to receive an education! ABORTION IS MURDER AND MURDER IS ABORTION. Women are the problem because men are helpless to stop them from aborting our offspring. It would be biblical and correct to cage them while pregnant and have them shackled and force fed. This baby will survive so that I can ignore it in the future and label it as a liberal whore.

Do you know where George Soros got all his money? He personally owned slaves and was a Nazi collaborator who stole all the jews money and art. He wipes his ass with lost van goghs and monets. NOW he's paying for Hillary's toilet paper. The DNC's Pakistani Spy stole all of hers but left her emails! She will be in prison.

We separate children from their parents all the time. It is what is happens when a parent breaks the law and doesn't MAGA. It's called prison. There should only be conjugal visits available for congressmen and evangelical pastors. WE DON'T NEED MORE VERMIN COMING FROM THE PRISON

Hitler mostly just wanted to protect German people. He was a real German Patriot and wanted to protect things. This is why he should have built walls instead of fighting Stalin. They WERE BOTH LEFTISTS because I threw out my book learning and went with what my gut tells me.

I am really owning you and you don't even know.

GET WITH THE MAGA OR STAY ON THE PORCH

Wow, you're clever in trying to make Jules* look bad with the name hijacking. Either have an argument, or not, but trolling is a bad look.

@RogueValley These are the firmest of sincerely held beliefs that I believe and HOW DARE YOU claim that I am being insincere or trolling!

@Fools* : I commented on her article. As I believe I have the privilege to do along with everyone else. But if you disagree with my opinion I am, as always, prepared to discuss it. What, pray tell, is there to be so worked up about?

As I could gleam from the article the only changes being discussed are a shift in policy to try and make sanctions more effective. Now of course one can disagree with Senator's Johnson proposal but it that seems more a matter of opinion not some great betrayal worthy of mockery or contempt.

Similarly you could disagree about the importance of the Russian interference. But again that's hardly an extreme position and should be dealt with by argumentation. Which is something the article fails to do.

So, do you have an argument. Or was your handle chosen aptly?

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