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Trump has a record of deference to Russia

CNN's Brian Todd explores President Donald Trump's relationship with Russia after a New York Times report revealed the FBI previously opened an inquiry into whether or not the president was benefitting Russia in some way.

Posted: Jan. 15, 2019 9:55 PM
Updated: Jan. 15, 2019 10:00 PM

In a rebuke to the Trump administration on Russia, Senate Democrats and at least 10 Republicans voted to advance a measure Tuesday that would stop the Treasury Department from relaxing sanctions on three Russian companies with ties to oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a Kremlin ally.

The Senate voted 57-42 to move ahead with a resolution from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that would reverse the Trump administration's decision to lift sanctions on the firms, a vote Schumer forced under a provision in the 2017 Russia sanctions law.

The Senate is taking a subsequent vote to proceed to the resolution on the floor, which also needs 51 votes to pass.

The vote comes amid renewed scrutiny of the Trump administration's stance on Russia in the aftermath of a bombshell New York Times report that the FBI in 2017 decided to investigate why Trump took actions that seemed to benefit Russia.

Sixty senators will be required to pass the resolution in a vote expected to be held later this week.

The vote in favor of the disapproval resolution came despite efforts by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to convince Senate Republicans to stop it, including attending the weekly Republican policy lunch to address their questions.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer introduced a parallel resolution in the House on Tuesday, giving the Democrats -- who control that chamber -- the option to proceed ahead of Thursday's congressional review deadline.

Under a 2017 law, Congress has the authority to halt any decision by the Trump administration to weaken sanctions, providing lawmakers with a 30-day window to reject the plan if lawmakers believe it undermines US economic and national security interests.

Treasury notified Congress in mid-December of its intent to lift sanctions on the Deripaska-connected companies after his ownership stake was reduced: Rusal, the world's second-largest aluminum producer, as well as EN+ Group and JSC EuroSibEnergo.

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