Russia

White House official on Russia: ‘We want to give collaboration a chance’

In response to revelations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, back in December then-President Obama shuttered U.S.-based diplomatic compounds to Russia. Since being elected President, Donald Trump has suggested that he wants the move reversed, prompting a bipartisan call from senators to keep the policy in place.

“Returning the compounds to Russian control is unjustifiable,” the senators, including Republican Lindsey Graham, wrote to President Trump in June. “It would both make it easier for the Kremlin to continue its intelligence operations in our own backyard and make it clear that they can avoid consequences for their actions. We strongly advise against it.”

The Trump administration is still pushing forward with the plan. Speaking for the White House, national security advisory staffer Sebastian Gorka appeared in CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper this Wednesday and argued that returning the compounds to Russia would be a good-faith move to increase “collaboration and cooperation” with Putin.

“I do want to ask you,” Tapper started out. “Last year, the Obama administration seized the diplomatic compounds … because in the view of the national security apparatus, the compounds were being used for intelligence-related purposes that might have been plausibly connected to the [election meddling campaign] by the Russian government. The Trump administration is considering returning those compounds to Russia. Why?”

“Because we want to give collaboration, cooperation a chance,” Gorka replied. “The fact is, we may not share the same philosophy [with Russia], we may not share the same type of statesman view of the world, but the fact is there are some issues of common concern.”

“If we see good faith, remember, more than 400,000 people have been killed in Syria,” Gorka continued. “That is horrific. If we can see acts of good faith come out of the Kremlin with regard to things such as a ceasefire, then perhaps there is a chance for what Rex Tillerson wants to see happen, which is an improvement in relations between out two capitals.

Watch a clip from the exchange below:

Featured image via screen grab

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