Trump admin considered naming Russia state sponsor of terror

Trump administration considered naming Russia a ‘state sponsor of terror’ following nerve gas attack on former spy – but Rex Tillerson called it off after just two days

  • Trump’s administration considered slapping Russia with a state sponsor of terror designation over a nerve gas attack on a former double agent in the U.K 
  • Then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ordered a review of Russia’s status then called the operation off 
  • The United States and Russia have had an especially tumultuous relationship since the 2016 election 
  • Trump began to harden his views on Vladimir Putin, though, and nearly put sanctions on Russia after the Syrian chemical weapons attack

Donald Trump’s administration considered slapping Russia with a state sponsor of terror designation over a nerve gas attack on a former double agent living in the U.K.

Then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ordered a review of Russia’s status then called the operation off days later, ProPublica reports.

A U.S. official told the investigative news outlet that Tillerson backed away from the action because ‘there are a lot of issues that we have to work on together with Russia.’

‘Designating them would interfere with our ability to do that,’ the person said. 

Trump’s administration considered slapping Russia with a state sponsor of terror designation over a nerve gas attack on a former double agent in the U.K. just days before Rex Tillerson was fired

The United States and Russia have had an especially tumultuous relationship since the 2016 election. 

President Trump has continued to rely on Moscow, however, for support in the war on terror. Russia has also been a reliable vote on the United Nation’s Security Council when it comes to reigning in North Korea.

Trump began to harden his views on Putin, though, after an assault on an ex-spy living in the U.K. in March

But U.S. intelligence officials say the Kremlin was behind a plot to meddle in the presidential election that brought Donald Trump to power and have charged that Russia has been interfering in other elections abroad. 

Russia’s incursion into Ukraine and ensuing violence was also part of the consideration to put it on the terror-sponsor list, ProPublica said, citing the 2014 downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight by Russian separatists.

Once in office, Trump was slow to deride Russia, saying multiple times that he believed that Moscow was involved in election meddling but no one could be sure. 

A year after the election Trump was still questioning whether the Kremlin was directly involved in the campaign to undermine American democracy, telling reporters after a meeting with Vladimir Putin in the sidelines of an Asian summit that ex-KGB spy says his country didn’t do it.

The former businessman who once appeared on the same episode of 60 Minutes as Putin took the stance that it would be better to have a working relationship with the Russian government than to constantly assault it.

His soft stance on Russia fueled attacks that the Trump campaign, or at least its associates, were part of the election disruption plot that the president has said is a ‘hoax’ and ‘fake news.’ He’s endlessly called a government investigation into allegations of collusion between his campaign and Russia a ‘witch hunt’ and demanded that the Justice Department bring an end to it.

Trump began to harden his views on Putin after the assault on an ex-spy living in the U.K. in March.

The poison gas attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter that British authorities have credited to Russia resulted in the expulsion of more than 100 of Moscow’s diplomats throughout the West that host countries, including the U.S., said were undercover informants.

Russia’s decision to side with Bashar al-Assad following a chemical weapons attack in Syria had Trump warning Putin that there would be serious consequences for his actions.

Russia’s decision to side with Bashar al-Assad following a chemical weapons attack in Syria had Trump warning Putin that there would be serious consequences for his actions

The U.S. readied new sanctions on Russia for the egregious attack on women and children, but Trump had second thoughts and at the last minute pulled back.  

Now, ProPublica reports that Tillerson ordered a recommendation for the highest level of sanctions on Russia just before he was dismissed by Trump.

The designation for Russia as a state sponsor of terror would put the nation on the ultimate U.S. blacklist. ProPublica reports that the review was, however, abandoned days later. 

No new sanctions were put on Russia in the end for either the poison attack in the U.K. or the gas attack in Syria.

If Trump did revisit a state sponsor of terror designation for Moscow, it would not only prohibit the nation from engaging in arms deals with the U.S., it would ban certain forms of commerce with Russia and place tight restrictions on companies that do business with the Kremlin.

The only other countries on the banned list are Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. 

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