Beyond Deripaska’s personal benefit from Treasury’s latest move, there’s also a potentially legitimate explanation for partially lifting the sanctions, according to Bloomberg.
Sanctioning of the world’s largest aluminum supplier [Rusal] outside of China threatened a worldwide shortage of the metal, forcing [Treasury Sec. Steve] Mnuchin to backtrack. Since April, he has closely monitored the issuance of extensions to the sanctions on Rusal as Treasury negotiated a deal with Deripaska to save the company from the full range of financial restrictions.
The deal includes Deripaska “cutting his direct and indirect share ownership below 50 percent in each company.” On the same day, Treasury also imposed a new round of sanctions on 15 Russian intelligence operatives who have been linked to 2016 election interference.
In any other administration, logical explanations for seemingly sudden policy decisions would be not only believable, but assumed. The problem with such shifts in this administration is that Trump‘s integrity has been so tarnished and his contacts with Russia so profuse and questionable that it’s difficult for many Trump-doubting Americans to know where the line is between reasonable skepticism of Trump’s motivations and conspiracy theory.
Both policy moves also came on the same day Trump was put on notice by Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the incoming chair of the House Oversight panel, that a wave of new investigations are heading his way in the 2019. Cummings issued document requests to more than 50 entities, including federal agencies, Trump’s family business, and his personal attorneys.
So the more it looks like Trump’s power has an expiration date—whether that’s through actual removal or just political siege—the more questionable each and every one of Trump’s unilateral moves becomes, whether one agrees with the policies or not.