Amid continued concerns that President Trump has an odd affinity and leniency toward Russia and Russian President Putin, the Democratic majority House today passed a series of measures aimed at holding both Putin and Russia accountable for their actions. One measure condemns Russia’s annexation of Crimea and bars federal agencies from recognizing Crimea as part of Russia – that measure passed today with only a single dissenter. Another measure condemns Putin and the Kremlin for their alleged involvement in the 2015 assassination of Putin political opponent Boris Nemtsov, as an example of a pattern of the Kremlin targeting such opponents – that measure passed today, also with only a single dissenter. About that measure, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said, according to The Hill, “This resolution condemns the Kremlin’s systematic targeting of its political opponents and calls on the administration to impose sanctions on those responsible for Nemtsov’s murder and cover-up.” The landslide votes in favor of these first two measures show that they have broad bipartisan support, at least in the House.
Another measure passed in the House today asks the director of National Intelligence to provide three assessments related to Russia on its actions against NATO member countries, its response to the expansion of NATO in Eastern Europe, and weaknesses that Russia might exploit. That measure is of particular interest in that previous reports have indicated the President Trump has even asserted, at times, that he believes Putin over the findings of the U.S. intelligence community, and has displayed “willful ignorance” on other intelligence issues, not just on the subject of Russia, but also on North Korea, ISIS, and Iran. According to The Hill:
The House passed a series of bills on Tuesday meant to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable for his country’s actions, including a measure condemning the Russian leader and his government for their alleged roles in covering up the 2015 assassination of Putin political opponent Boris Nemtsov. The package of legislation, all aimed at adding scrutiny on the Russian government, largely passed by voice vote. The bill concerning Nemtsov’s assassination overwhelmingly passed the House, with only one lawmaker — Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) — dissenting…A bill condemning the Russian annexation of Crimea also easily passed the House, with 427 lawmakers supporting the act. Again only Massie voted against it. Under the legislation, led by Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), federal departments and agencies are barred from recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which sparked international outrage in 2014…The House also passed legislation sponsored by Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) and Chris Stewart (R-Utah) that would instruct the director of National Intelligence to submit three comprehensive assessments on the “political leadership of the Russian Federation”…
The Democratic majority House continues to push forward with measures of accountability, here both for the Trump administration as well as for Putin and the Russian government. That at least two of these bills passed today with very broad bipartisan support lends hope to their passing in the Senate as well, but it remains to be seen if that actually happens.