September 16, 2018

Senator Toomey "Responds" With A Letter

Sorry for the delay. Life got in the way.

Last week, I said that I received two letters from Senator Pat Toomey. I dealt with the first one.

Here's the second.

It's dated August 13 and begins thusly:
Thank you for contacting me about Russian aggression around the world. I appreciate hearing from you.
From the date of the letter, we can assume it's a response to anything before my seventy-fourth letter, dated August 14.

But which one was about "Russian aggression around the world"?

The Seventy-third letter was about the June 16th Trump Tower meeting with the Russians and the Trump Administration's evolving dishonesty in discussing it - so that's probably a no.

The Seventy-second letter I gave Toomey a choice to answer on any one of these three subjects:
  • Michael Cohen
  • The ICE detentions of children
  • Brett Kavanaugh
So that's probably a no, as well.

The Seventy-first was about the Steele Dossier - so that's a no.

And so on.

Let's give the Senator the benefit of the doubt. Reading the letter (and I'll post the full text below) it reads more like a general defense of Toomey's anti-Russia credentials than any sort of specific answer to any of my questions.

So on that count as my questions to him about Russia are completely intertwined with Donald Trump and this letter is almost completely about Toomey's reactions to Russia, it's a fail.

There's one mention of Trump in the letter. In the second full paragraph:
I find it very troubling that President Trump has not more forcefully condemned Putin's hostile actions against the United States and our allies.
Look familiar? It's the added text to last week's response letter. This part, specifically:
I also find it troubling that President Trump has not condemned more forcefully Vladimir Putin's hostile actions against the United States and our allies, especially in regards to Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. I have said so publicly and continue to support legislative actions that will decisively push back against Russia.
At this point last week I had to ask: When did Trump ever condemn Putin's hostile actions at all?

Don't you have to condemn something first before someone else can criticize you for not doing it forcefully enough??

So I'll ask it again: is Toomey giving Trump some quiet cover here? Imagine being a FoxNews fed constituent of Pat Toomey's and you get a letter that says this. Without knowing that Trump didn't condemn Putin at all, you'd be safe in assuming the opposite when reading that Senator Toomey criticized him for not condemning forcefully enough.

Very subtle lie here, Senator.

Here's the text:
Thank you for contacting me about Russian aggression around the world. I appreciate hearing from you.

I have long said Russia is no friend of the United States. Russian President Vladimir Putin actively seeks to undermine American values institutions and our leadership throughout the world. In addition, American intelligence agencies have confirmed, unequivocally, that Russian actors, almost certainly at the direction of the Russian government and Vladimir Putin, meddled in our 2016 presidential election. I find it very troubling that President Trump has not more forcefully condemned Putin's hostile actions against the United States and our allies. Regardless I am committed to ensuring that our armed forces, intelligence community and homeland security agencies have the resources and tools they need to fulfill their missions, including in pushing back against Russia and protecting the integrity of our elections.

I have also supported strong sanctions against Russia for its aggression in Europe, the Middle East and cyberspace. As a member of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, I was pleased to support the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) (Public Law 115-44), which codified and strengthened existing sanctions on Russia for its regression in Ukraine. This legislation also authorized news sanctions on Russia for its role in cyberattacks, and placed mandatory sanctions on Iran, Russia, and North Korea for their activities threatening both the security of the United States and global stability.

I was also pleased that on April 6, 2018, the Treasury Department utilized CATTSA and other authorities to issue sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs, 12 Russian companies, and 17 Russian government officials. This action came shortly after sanctions were imposed against five Russian entities and 19 individuals for U.S. Election meddling and other cyber-related activity, including an ongoing attack on America's critical infrastructure. In addition, on July 24, 2018, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and I sent a letter to the Treasury Department urging that sanctions be imposed immediately on the 12 indicted Russian military intelligence officers for their involvement in cyber operations to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Whether it is aggression in Ukraine, meddling in the U.S. Elections, supporting the Iranian and Syrian regimes, flagrant human rights abuses, or any other in a long list of aggressive actions, it is clear that Vladimir Putin is a bad actor and his government should be treated as an international pariah. In December 2012, for example, I supported legislation (public Law 112-208) known as the Sergei Magnitsky Act, which allowed our government to impose sanctions on Russian human rights abuses, More recently, the Senate approved a resolution that I introduced condemning the violence and persecution of gay men in the Russian state of Chechnya (S.Res. 211) on October 30, 2017. Shortly thereafter, the Treasury Department used the Sergei Magnitsky Act to sanction the head of the Chechen republic on December 20, 2017 for his role in the aforementioned abuses. I am also an original cosponsor of bill pending in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, S. 2455, which supports enhanced cybersecurity cooperation between the U.S. and Ukraine. I have also stated unequivocally that Russia should be disqualified from rejoining the G& until its malign behavior ends.

Mr. Putin insists that the Russian government has nothing to do with meddling in our elections. In that case he should not object to the Russian hackers who have been indicted by the Department of Justice from being brought to the United states for prosecution. Since Putin's cooperation is unlikely, the United States should impose tough new sanctions on Russia, Our country must not stand by and allow Putin and his cronies to bully the United States, our allies, and our friends across the globe. Congress must remain vigilant against Russia and its aggressive behavior in the future.

Thank you again for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.

Very subtle lie.

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