Trump Administration Imposed More Postelection Sanctions Than Recent Administrations
By Mengqi Sun
The Trump administration issued a flurry of sanctions after
Election Day, a move that could complicate foreign policy for the
Biden administration, sanctions policy observers said.
The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control
announced 307 designations of blacklisted individuals and entities
between Nov. 3 and Tuesday, the last full day under the Trump
presidency, according to data analysis from law firm Gibson, Dunn
& Crutcher LLP. Sanctions designations at the end of the Trump
administration moved at a faster pace than during the rest of
President Trump's time in office, with an average of about 1,000
entities and individuals blacklisted each year.
The Trump administration also levied more sanctions between
election day and Inauguration Day than did other recent
administrations, the analysis showed. The number of sanctions rose
by roughly 53% from the number of designations OFAC imposed under
President Obama between the 2016 election and inauguration of Mr.
Trump. President George W. Bush imposed about 81 sanctions between
Election Day in 2008 and Inauguration Day in 2009.
On Tuesday, OFAC imposed sanctions on three individuals, 14
entities and six vessels for allegedly facilitating the evasion of
U.S. sanctions on Venezuela's oil sector.
The difference in the number of postelection sanctions imposed
under the Obama and Trump administrations is in line with how
frequently the two administrations imposed sanctions during their
time in office, according to Adam M. Smith, a partner at Gibson,
Dunn & Crutcher.
The surge in sanctions after elections generally could be the
result of the outgoing administration trying to solidify foreign
policy strategies and responding to urgent crises that may emerge
regardless of the election, Mr. Smith said. The sanctions after the
2020 elections, for instance, consist of designations of
individuals and entities over allegations of human rights abuses
and interference in U.S. elections.
The Trump administration leaned heavily on economic sanctions as
a foreign policy tool over the past four years. Many of its
postelection sanctions were related to Iran or China, continuing a
theme in 2020 as a whole, according to an analysis of designations
data by the Center for a New American Security, a Washington, D.C.,
think tank. The organization's study found that Iran was by far the
most prominent target of U.S. sanctions last year.
"The number of overall designations remained high in 2020," Sam
Dorshimer, a co-author of the CNAS study, said. "It just shows that
sanctions has been and will continue to be a key policy tool."
The volley of postelection sanctions on Iran could be seen as
the outgoing administration's effort to complicate the Biden
administration's policy objectives, observers said.
Advisers to President Biden have signaled the new administration
would seek to rejoin the nuclear deal with Iran, which would mean a
lifting of nuclear-related U.S. economic sanctions on Iran.
The Wall Street Journal previously reported the Trump
administration had planned a pre-election volley of sanctions
against Iran intended in part to make the pressure campaign against
Tehran harder to reverse.
In a parting shot at outgoing administration, Iran on Tuesday
sanctioned President Trump and nine other U.S. officials for their
role in terrorist activities against Iran. On Wednesday, China said
that it would sanction 28 senior American officials who served in
the Trump administration as part of a testy send-off.
Reversals in U.S. foreign policy approaches and sanctions
policies between two U.S. administrations can make compliance more
challenging for businesses, Mr. Smith said. "It's just confusing
for a business environment when there's no predictability, when
you're dealing in an administration-driven decision-making process"
that can result in significant changes in what deals are allowed
and what are prohibited, he added.
Write to Mengqi Sun at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 20, 2021 18:47 ET (23:47 GMT)
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