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Trump wanted to ease anti-Russian sanctions after inauguration
11:36, 2 June 2017
Trump wanted to ease anti-Russian sanctions after inauguration

State Department staffers were tasked to work out measures to normalize relations with Russia

11:36, 2 June 2017

AP photo

In the early weeks of the Trump administration, State Department officials were tasked with developing proposals for the lifting of economic sanctions, the return of diplomatic compounds and other steps to relieve tensions with Moscow. This was reported by Yahoo News with reference to sources in the White House and US State Department.

These efforts to relax or remove punitive measures imposed by President Obama in retaliation for Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and meddling in the 2016 election alarmed some State Department officials, who immediately began lobbying congressional leaders to quickly pass legislation to block the move, the sources said.

“There was serious consideration by the White House to unilaterally rescind the sanctions,” said Dan Fried, a veteran State Department official who served as chief U.S. coordinator for sanctions policy until he retired in late February. He said in the first few weeks of the administration, he received several “panicky” calls from US government officials who told him they had been directed to develop a sanctions-lifting package and imploring him, “Please, my God, can’t you stop this?”

Related: White House does not comment on investigation of connections between Russia and Trump

Fried said he grew so concerned that he contacted Capitol Hill allies — including Senator Ben Cardin, the ranking minority member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — to urge them to move quickly to pass legislation that would “codify” the sanctions in place, making it difficult for President Trump to remove them.

Earlier it was reported that ten American cities called for Trump’s impeachment. A growing number of local governments are clamoring for Congress to act against Donald Trump.

Related: Trump approves tougher visa vetting, including social media checks

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