Jul 27, 2017

The Russia sanctions bill Congress loves but Europe hates


House and Senate leaders struck a deal late Wednesday night that would ramp up sanctions against Russia for its meddling in the 2016 election (in a package that also heightened sanctions on Iran and North Korea) while also limiting President Trump's power to nix them.

Where Europe comes in: European allies are concerned that the sanctions against Russia would inadvertently be damaging to their economies as well.

Here's why
  • The bill seeks to strike at the heart of Russia's economic lifeline, which is its sale of oil and natural gas. Oil and natural gas exports pay for half of the Russian state budget, and Russia's biggest customer is Europe.
  • It's not only Russia that is reliant: Europe depends on Russia for about a quarter of its energy supplies.
  • And some of Europe's biggest energy and construction companies have big contracts to build Nordstream 2, an enormous natural gas line under the Baltic Sea that's meant to allow Russia to finally all-but sever its dependence on export lines crossing Ukraine.

And they might retaliate: EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday, "If our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days. 'America First' cannot mean that Europe's interests come last." Juncker's warning is a dig at Trump, but...

Trump's hands might be tied: The White House doesn't like the bill either, arguing it limits Trump's abilities to deal with Russia. But he's likely to sign it anyway, given its popularity and the likelihood that lawmakers will have the votes to override a potential veto.

Go deeper

Situational awareness

Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Mike Bloomberg offers to release women from 3 NDAs
  2. Wells Fargo agrees to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges
  3. Bloomberg campaign says Tennessee vandalism "echoes language" from Bernie supporters
  4. Scoop: New White House personnel chief tells Cabinet liaisons to target Never Trumpers
  5. Nearly half of Republicans support pardoning Roger Stone

Wells Fargo agrees to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges

Clients use an ATM at a Wells Fargo Bank in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo: Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Wells Fargo agreed to a pay a combined $3 billion to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday for opening millions of fake customer accounts between 2002 and 2016, the SEC said in a press release.

The big picture: The fine "is among the largest corporate penalties reached during the Trump administration," the Washington Post reports.

Bloomberg offers to release women from 3 nondisclosure agreements

Mike Bloomberg. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg said Friday his company will release three women identified to have signed nondisclosure agreements so they can publicly discuss their allegations against him if they wish.

Why it matters, via Axios' Margaret Talev: Bloomberg’s shift in policy toward NDAs comes as he tries to stanch his loss of female support after the Las Vegas debate. It is an effort to separate the total number of harassment and culture complaints at the large company from those directed at him personally. That could reframe the criticism against him, but also protect the company from legal fallout if all past NDAs were placed in jeopardy.