Senate Republicans derailed a bipartisan push to enforce sanctions on companies linked to Russian oligarch and Vladimir Putin ally Oleg Deripaska.
Though seven Republicans joined Democrats to vote to advance a measure that would have kept the sanctions in place, 42 Republican Senators voted against the legislation, HuffPost reports. The measure needed 60 votes to break a filibuster.
The move comes after the Treasury Department announced in December that it would lift sanctions on aluminum-producing companies owned by Deripaska, arguing that he had sufficiently divested his control of the companies and keeping the sanctions in place would aid aluminum firms in China.
Some Republicans criticized the move and warned that the administration was falling for a ploy.
“Maybe that would work in America but in Russia, there are other ways of owning a corporation than just giving up shares,” Republican Louisana Sen. John Kennedy told HuffPost. “I’m not suggesting Secretary Mnuchin is wrong― he’s just a little more trusting than I am.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called out Republicans for not being willing to stand up to President Trump’s administration despite years of criticism of Russia.
“In so many campaigns for president, we Democrats were accused of not being tough enough on the Russians. I have always felt we have to be tough on the Russians,” Schumer said. “But it seems that acquiescence to the president, a fear of breaking with the president, has held back too many of my Republican colleagues from supporting this resolution.”
Deripaska has close ties to Trump campaign chief:
Deripaska funded some of former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort’s work while he was a consultant in Ukraine and later invested in a Manafort investment fund and lent Manafort a reported $10 million that he was unable to pay back, court documents show.
During the presidential campaign, Manafort offered Deripaska private briefings on the campaign, The Washington Post reported.
Manafort’s lawyers admitted in a recent court filing that Manafort leaked internal campaign polling to a Russian-intelligence linked colleague who was reported to have provided the information to another Russian oligarch.
Some Republicans say Trump admin is falling for a trick:
Sen. Marco Rubio warned that Deripaska divesting some control did not diminish his influence over the companies the Treasury Department plans to lift sanctions on.
“Under this agreement Oleg Deripaska loses shares but not influence or effective control of Rusal,” Sen. Rubio said Wednesday. “Between his 35 percent of voting shares and those held by others close to him, including 7 percent by Putin’s bank, his control over the company remains.”
Maine Sen. Susan Collins also said she “disapproved” of the move because “He still would maintain significant control given his ties to Putin. Easing the sanctions sends the wrong message to Russia & to Deripaska.”