“Senior administration official” confirms White House effort to dilute bill over Russia’s interference in 2016 election

Developments on Day 149 of the Trump Administration:

White House Plans to Weaken Senate’s Russia Sanctions Bill

The White House will work with Republicans in the House of Representatives to weaken a Senate bill imposing more sanctions on Russia over Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election.

A “senior administration official” confirmed that the White House is pushing back on the bill, which passed 98-2 this week, because of concern that its hands will be tied on US-Russia relations and that Donald Trump’s power to ease or lift restrictions is limited.

However, any White House attempt may be complicated because of the apparent reinforcement of Trump’s benevolence towards Moscow, amid ongoing FBI and Congressional investigations of links between Trump associates and Russian officials.

The administration official emphasized that the White House supports sanctions on Russia, in place since 2014 over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and encouragement of separatists in eastern Ukraine, and that the political ramifications of any Presidential veto have not been discussed.

The Senate’s bill, the product of bipartisan discussions, imposes new sanctions on Russian defense, military intelligence, and energy sectors. It converts existing sanctions into law and authorizes the blocking of Trump from easing or ending sanctions without a two-thirds majority vote in Congress.

6 Members of AIDS Advisory Council Resign Over Trump Policies

Six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS resign, citing the administration’s regressive health policies and a lack of care shown by Donald Trump.

Scott Schoettes, Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses Burley III, Michelle Ogle, and Grissel Granados wrote in Newsweek:

As advocates for people living with HIV, we have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care.

The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and — most concerning — pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease.

The 21-member Council was estalbished in 1995 to advise the White House on how to halt the spread of HIV.

Schoettes, the HIV project director for Lambda Legal, said:

I think there’s a general sense that the atmosphere has changed and our job at the council was going to be much harder. It was my sense that I did not have any real say with this administration and that’s in part because it’s not an administration that wants to deal in facts, wants to deal in science.”

I think HIV was never a priority for this White House. The Trump campaign refused to even meet with HIV advocates.