One of President Obama’s last diplomatic challenges as president may turn out to be Donald Trump’s first challenge. Americans must hope Trump puts aside bombast when it comes to upholding sanctions against Russia for hacking that tried to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Obama did the right thing.
The president ejected 35 Russian intelligence operatives from the U.S. and put sanctions on Russian intelligence services.
Trump, of course, at one point in the presidential campaign appeared to be cheering on the Russians in hacking emails and information from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s staff.
As The New York Times reported, this will be an early test for Trump. If he calls off the sanctions after he takes office, he’s going directly against experienced American intelligence officials. He’d also be going against some influential members of his own party in Congress, notably Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who says he plans to pursue even stronger sanctions against Russia.
Yes, it’s an awkward moment for Trump, whose campaign may have benefitted from the hacking. But the larger issue here is to send a message to the Russians that this kind of behavior, this interference in the American election process, will not now and will never be tolerated.
Trump needs to leave Obama’s sanctions in place.