Thursday on MSNBC, while reporting on a phone-in White House background briefing with officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department about President Barack Obama’s newly announced sanctions on Russia for hacking during the 2016 American presidential election, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell said the Obama administration is taking steps to “box in” President-elect Donald Trump so the sanctions are not easily reversible.
Mitchell said, “The White House did a background briefing with officials from DHS and the State Department. Basically, they are saying that they know that President-elect Trump has signaled as recently as Wednesday saying that he thinks that we should move on past what has happened. But he said that the president’s approach is that of one president at a time and that President Obama feels that he needs to exercise his duties until January 20. So these actions are pretty stiff. I mean PNGing, declaring persona non grata, 35 Russian embassy employees. Saying that they were basally spies. Kicking them out. Saying that they have to leave by noon on Sunday. That’s leaving them 72 hours to get out of the country. That is clearly and always going to be reciprocated. We have to accept our own diplomats are going to be kicked out.”
She added, “They really are taking steps, they think — if I could read into, or infer from the callers, from those on the call — they are taking steps that will box in Donald Trump. How easily will it be undone? When asked whether Donald Trump and the new administration, according to their signals do not not agree with this, from what they said so far publicly, unless they see more information once they take office — Will they let those spies back in the states? Will they reopen those Russian facilities? The briefer says that they think it would be very difficult for the president-elect or for any American president to reopen spy facilities, to let spies back in the country. That American business that has suffered hundreds of millions of dollars of damage from this would certainly not be happy to know that the president of the United States is supporting Russian intelligence. So they are taking steps that are reversible but are clearly not going to be easily reversed at first blush.”
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