The Buzz

Missouri Democrat’s new role gives him power to push for stronger sanctions on Russia

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, asks a question of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson during a House Financial Services Committee hearing, Wednesday, June 27, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, asks a question of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson during a House Financial Services Committee hearing, Wednesday, June 27, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP Photo

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver will use a new position to push for stronger sanctions on Russia after President Donald Trump’s administration lifted sanctions on companies linked to a Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin.

The Missouri Democrat last week was named chairman of a newly formed subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee, the powerful committee that oversees banking regulation. The new subcommittee will focus on national security, international development and monetary policy.

“It has probably the most sweeping array of committee responsibilities of any that may exist,” Cleaver told The Star. The position gives Cleaver oversight on sanctions against Russia, Iran and other nations on top of other duties.

“We have in our bailiwick trade issues as well as sanctions. We’re going to probably look a little deeper into issues regarding sanctions,” Cleaver said the same week that Trump’s administration took the controversial step of removing sanctions on three firms tied to Oleg Deripaska, a close associate of Putin.

“I’m not only troubled by it. I am in fear of what happened because there are other Russian oligarchs who have not been sanctioned who are involved in the U.S. economy,” Cleaver said.

A Democratic proposal to block the lifting of the sanctions failed in the GOP-controlled Senate this month despite the support of two Kansas City area Republicans, Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri.

Moran has been named chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees funding the Department of Justice and other agencies.

The president has repeatedly attacked the Justice Department’s special investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 election, which has led to multiple indictments of Trump associates, including his longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone.

Moran did not agree to an interview on his new position, but his spokeswoman said in an email that he continues to support allowing Special Counsel Robert Mueller to complete his investigation.

“Nothing has changed in that regard,” said Moran spokeswoman Morgan Said.

Bryan Lowry covers Kansas and Missouri politics as Washington correspondent for The Kansas City Star. He previously served as Kansas statehouse correspondent for The Wichita Eagle and as The Star’s lead political reporter. Lowry contributed to The Star’s investigation into government secrecy that was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize.
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