In a series of moves intentionally designed to “box in” President-elect Donald Trump and prevent him from deconstructing his controversial legacy, President Obama has directed his UN ambassador to rebuke Israel through a resolution that will be highly impactful as well as sanctioning Russia over election-year hacking allegations. Moreover, he has signed a series of executive orders that would hamper Trump in his agenda to revive America once he is sworn in.
On December 23rd, rather than wielding America's traditional veto, Obama had Samantha Powers (his representative at the United Nations) abstain on Security Council resolution 2334 which declared that all lands liberated by Israel subsequent to the 1967 war are now deemed “illegal.” Several days later, Obama directed Secretary of State John Kerry to deliver a scathing address which excoriated Israel and created even a larger schism in the already fractious relationship between the traditional allies.
Speculation has arisen that Obama was driven to take one last, vindictive swipe at Israel partly because of Trump’s close alliance with Israel and his unequivocal support of the Jewish State. During his campaign, Trump often addressed the issue of “Israel being treated very poorly” by the Obama administration and his conviction to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to show the world that the US is squarely in the corner of a united and eternal Jewish Jerusalem.
In addition, Trump chose his bankruptcy attorney, David Friedman for the post of US ambassador to Israel. Friedman is a staunch supporter of a greater Israel and a vocal advocate of the settler movement in the Judea and Samaria.
Earlier this week, the White House expelled nearly three dozen Russian diplomats and forced the closure of two U.S. waterfront estates used by Russian intelligence operatives.
The UK Daily Mail reported that Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway reacted in a Fox News Channel interview to a New York Times report that those moves 'appeared intended to box in President-elect Trump, who will now have to decide whether to lift the sanctions on Russian intelligence agencies when he takes office next month.'
Conway said, 'I hope that this isn't motivated by politics even a little bit.'
She said she was referring specifically to 'the allegation or the supposition that perhaps one reason that the sanctions are taking place is to "box in" President-elect Trump, forcing him to take a position or otherwise once he takes office.'
In what appears to be a desperate, eleventh-hour flurry of regulations that are specifically crafted to place “tacks on the road” in front of Trump as he prepares to hand over the Oval office on January 20, Obama has issued executive orders and offered diplomatic snubs.
The Daily Mail also reported that the 110-year-old Antiquities Act was utilized by Obama this week to unilaterally declare the existence of two national monuments in Utah and Nevada. This move has severely irked the GOP in both states as they view it as a land-grab permanently etched in as law without any prior consultation.
The implications of his move puts 1.65 million acres of U.S. land off-limits to energy exploration, cattle grazing and other development, as was reported by the Daily Mail.
Last Wednesday, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) said Wednesday in a statement that, “This midnight move is a slap in the face to the people of Utah, attempting to silence the voices of those who will bear the heavy burden it imposes.”
Obama also snuck in an order to on December 20th to ban oil and gas drilling across hundreds of millions of acres owned by the federal government in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. Just days after this, Obama abrogated the remnants of a Bush administration program that obligated adult males from Muslim countries to register with the immigration authorities.
The National Security Entry-Exit Registration System will soon fall into obsolescence from the nation's regulatory books. According to a report in the Daily Mail, it was to have served as a sensible framework that Trump's aides could use to fulfill a campaign promise to track immigrants and visa holders from terror-prone nations – part of a philosophy he called 'extreme vetting' as he ran for the White House.
Conway took a dim view of the sudden whirlwind of activity at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
'I think within the last couple of days you see this flurry of activity by a "tough" President Obama as he exits the office,' she reflected.
'And I guess is just burnishing his last couple of moments,' she mused, cautioning that Trump 'will have an opportunity to re-examine our relationship geopolitically, across the globe' once he takes office.
She specifically took aim at the Russia sanctions, wondering aloud if they will have much effect.
'This is great political fanfare and largely symbolic, but will it have impact? Will these sanctions have impact?' Conway asked.
It’s unclear how many of Obama’s late actions Trump will able to reverse upon taking office.
According to a report on The Hill web site, should Trump seek to scrap the sanctions on Russia next year, it could trigger a fight with congressional Republicans, who mostly praised the retaliatory steps on Thursday even as they lambasted the Obama administration’s foreign policy.
Senior administration officials argued that any effort to roll back the sanctions would be “inadvisable” because they apply to Russian intelligence agencies working against America’s national interest.
“Hypothetically, you could reverse those sanctions,” one official told reporters. “But it wouldn’t make a lot of sense.”
The U.N. vote on Israeli settlements is another late move by Obama that complicates Trump’s policy goals.
But even if Trump follows through on changing U.S. policy toward Israel, it’s unlikely he will be able to repeal the U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements.
To do so, he would need to convince nine members of the Security Council — and the four other members with veto power, China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom — to back a measure scrapping the resolution.
The Hill also reported that supporters of Trump and industries that have opposed Obama’s regulatory actions say turning back the clock is the most important thing the president-elect can do to help businesses succeed.
Under federal law, reversing major regulations requires a time-consuming process that can drag on for months and sometimes years. And even after new rules are issued, they can be challenged in court — something environmental groups are already vowing to do.
The Republican Congress can also help undo some of Obama’s recent rules by using the Congressional Review Act, which provides for the expedited repeal of regulations, according to the report on The Hill web site.
“The Obama administration has done a lot unilaterally, and the silver lining of that is that it can be undone unilaterally,” said Nick Loris, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
What seems clear is that Trump is dedicated to the fight.
The intended effect of Obama’s moves has been to steal the thunder of Trump's historic victory. It is a development that the outgoing president has avoided acknowledging is his overall goal as he transitions back into private life.
Obama was personally involved in Clintons failed campaign in its final month, actively urging Americans to choose her as his successor. Americans hadn't seen such a level of engaged campaigning by a sitting president in generations.
By: Arthur Kleigheimer