The White House pushed for easing sanctions on Russia well after the ouster of Michael Flynn as national security adviser, floating the idea as recently as late March, according to a Daily Beast report published Monday night.
The National Security Council specifically asked the State Department to consider lifting sanctions on the Russian oil industry, arguing that the sanctions on that sector could hurt the U.S. economy, anonymous former U.S. officials told the Daily Beast.
The State Department had to inform the White House that easing those sanctions would actually hurt the American oil industry, according to the report. A State Department official also told the White House that lifting sanctions on the Russian oil industry would reward Russia without getting anything in return, according to an email reviewed by the Daily Beast.
The March request came from NSC strategist Kevin Harrington, according to the report. An anonymous Trump official told the Daily Beast that Harrington only was analyzing the economic impact of lifting sanctions.
“He did an economic analysis of what the Russian sanctions are doing. He said according to his analysis, they weren’t causing any significant pain,” the official said. “His view was, if these sanctions are harming our economy without putting any pressure on Russia, what’s the point?”
The report follows a story from Yahoo News last week that the Trump administration had pushed the State Department to ease sanctions on Russia soon after Trump took office. But the Daily Beast shows that the push to lift sanctions continued past Flynn’s departure and into March, after Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster began work as the national security adviser.
Flynn reportedly spoke to the Russian ambassador to the U.S. about lifting sanctions soon after the Obama administration implemented additional sanctions on that country over its interference in the 2016 election.