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Sanctionstein: What is the real cause of America’s latest sanctions regime?

The latest round of American sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea are nothing more than a desperate attempt to curtail European investment.

Haneul Na'avi

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“Light, feeling, and sense will pass away; and in this condition must I find my happiness […] Polluted by crimes and torn by the bitterest remorse, where can I find rest but in death?

—Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Chapter 24

On 25th July, a united Congress issued a new round of economic sanctions against Russian, Iranian, and North Korean industries, ignoring US President Donald Trump’s provisions, and after last month’s attempts stalled due to unintended economic consequences.

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions [R-TX] feared that they would cause “huge problems to companies in Dallas, Texas, that I represent,” putting them at a disadvantage.

Despite this, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders rallied Congress.

“We […] will continue to work with the House and Senate to put those tough sanctions in place on Russia until the situation in Ukraine is fully resolved,” she read carefully from her talking points.

However, the actual legislation, “Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act of 2017” (S.1221) deems it necessary to “authorize the appropriation of $530 million […] to counter Russian influence in Europe and Eurasia and to promote energy security in Ukraine.”

In reality, the bill, a mess of incoherent reasoning, attempts to ‘isolate’ Russia and promote post-coup Ukraine’s privatised (and failing) oil and gas industry, now controlled by American investors.

For example, section 8 does not specify which companies to promote; however, Burmisa Holdings, the private Ukrainian oil conglomerate to which Hunter Biden, former US Vice President Joe Biden’s son, is a member of the board of directors, will eventually take precedence.

Burisma owns several Ukrainian oil and gas companies, including Esko Pivnich and Pari [and] the company also has assets in Ukraine’s Dnepr-Donetsk, the Carpathian and the Azov-Kuvan basins”, a May 2014 Moscow Times article reported.

“[Joe Biden] has pledged to support efforts to reduce [Ukraine’s] dependency on Russian energy”, it continued.

Lickspittle Ben Cardin (D-MD) of the Senate Foreign Relations’ Committee lavished the sanctions, citing the ubiquitous ramblings of ‘Russian aggression’ to Politico.

I believe the proposed changes to the bill have helped to clarify the intent of members of Congress as well as express solidarity with our closest allies in countering Russian aggression and holding the Kremlin accountable for their destabilizing activities,” he droned.

However, his ‘closest allies’—members of the European Union—were never consulted in the sanctions’ regime and did not share his sentiments.

Several high-ranking German, French, and Austrian officials have openly condemned the unilateral moves, RT reports.

Most salient was European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker’s scathing response:

[The bill] foresees the imposition of sanctions on any company (including European) which contributes to the development, maintenance, modernisation or repair of energy export pipelines by the Russian Federation [which] could affect infrastructure transporting energy resources to Europe [and] have an impact on projects crucial to the EU’s diversification objectives such as the Baltic Liquefied Natural Gas project.

This is why the Commission concluded today that 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.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also commented on the sanctions, calling them “extra-cynical”.

We, as you know, are behaving with restraint, very patiently, but at some point we will have to respond, it is impossible to tolerate arrogance toward our country forever,” he expressed.

The growing deterioration in EU-US relations threatens to midwife a powerful rebellion to which Congress cannot extricate itself, and this time, American’s disruptive meddling may irreversibly isolate it from longstanding allies.

Alienation, Commodity Fetishism, and American Sanctions

Karl Marx’s theory of historical materialism illustrates the contradiction within America’s sanctions’ regime.

Marx’s manuscript, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, points out that:

At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production [which] turn into their fetters.

Those ‘fetters’ are the dying petrodollar—oil as a commodity to dominate global productive forces—diminished by rising international currencies, which a previous Duran article explains.

Furthermore, the Trump administration hallmarks the transition of America into alienation. Simply put, as the US attempts to ‘isolate Russia, Iran, etc.’—whatever that means—it becomes further ostracised from other great powers who fight to assert themselves in the global market.

No longer are the American bourgeoisie controllers of the petrodollar, but quite the contrary, they fetishise it, invoking the monster of late-stage imperialism that compels them both to demise.

This is precisely what Marx implied in “Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right”, section 2,

“The mystical substance becomes the real subject and the real subject appears to be something else, namely a moment of the mystical substance.”

The American bourgeoisie’s wretched creation now demands a companion (empire), lest the vile creature completely destroys its creator as an impending consequence.

Inevitably, the bourgeoisie and petrodollar will share the same fate as Shelly’s antagonist, immolated together in the destructive flames of that (em)pyre.

Historical Developments Influencing the Sanctions

Several highly important developments have given rise to the blanket US sanctions regime.

One must note that the sanctions do not affect the European economy, but directly target it, as the EU is the single greatest existential threat to US dollar hegemony after China and Russia.

Growing investment between Iran, China, Russia, and the EU has followed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), to which the P5+1 (United Nations Security Council permanent members China, Russia, France, the UK, and US with Germany) are signatories.

Earlier this month, delegates of Russian energy giant Gazprom and German petrochemicals company BASF negotiated completion of the Nord Stream-2 project in Moscow.

[…] in the first half of 2017 Gazprom supplied Germany with 26.5 billion cubic meters of gas, an increase of 3.8 billion cubic meters (+16.7 percent) against the first six months of 2016. The parties stressed the importance of the timely implementation of the project.

This is why EU Commission President Junker seeks retaliation: energy demands are increasing and the sanctions threaten the scheduled completion of the Nord Stream-2.

France, however, is the most relevant case study to date and the focus of the sanctions.

French President Emanuel Macron has long desired to end anti-Russian sanctions, even whilst serving as former President Francois Hollande’s finance minister.

The objective we all share is to provide the lifting of sanctions by the summer, as far as the peace process in south-eastern Ukraine is respected,” he stated in Jan 2016.

FARS news details France’s motivations perfectly,

Sanctions that are prohibitive or otherwise too restrictive to foster trade risk driving business to foreign markets — and, in doing so, broker new alliances between longtime American friends and foes. Tensions wrought by US sanctions against Russia, for example, have divided US allies in Europe that were already financially struggling before being hit with the economic penalties’ knock-on effects. That’s why the lower house of France’s parliament has voted [302-16] in a nonbinding agreement to lift EU sanctions against Russia.

EU Commission figures show that the global recession (2008-2014) and volatile oil prices compelled the Sarkozy and Hollande administrations to ‘diversify’ its Middle Eastern sources.

In this period, France’s domestic oil imports fell sharply from 610 mln. barrels at 59.5 bln. USD to 410 mln. barrels at 39.9 bln due to fluctuating crude oil costs and lower manufacturing demands.

Whist supply volumes diminished, 2011-2013 was the most expensive period for crude oil supply costs, with an average of 111 USD per barrel.

In 2011, at its most severe point, the Sarkozy administration invaded Libya along with its NATO allies. France’s Total also joined the now-defunct Nabucco pipeline, which was originally proposed in 2009 to diversify EU oil.

Ironically, Syria rejected it in favour of a pan-Islamic pipeline, which sparked the Saudi and US-backed coup and cancelled the Nabucco project; later, the war facilitated the future Iranian-Syrian-Iraqi security initiative.

“[The] natural gas pipeline would run through Syria’s Aleppo and Turkey unto Europe. However, Assad dampened this dream in 2011 when he instead forged a pact with Iraq and Iran to run an ‘Islamic pipeline’ eastward to the European market,” Christina Lin highlighted.

French oil conglomerate Total finally conceded and greenlighted the Iranian South Pars 11 project last November, defying previous US sanctions, in order to make up for the lost pipeline.

Total has signed a Heads of Agreement (HoA) with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) for the development of phase 11 of South Pars, the world’s largest gas field [which] will have a production capacity of 1.8 billion cubic feet per day, or 370 000 barrels of oil equivalent [and] the produced gas will be fed into Iran’s gas network.

French, Iranian, and Chinese companies will finance the entire South Pars project, Total continues:

[We] will operate the SP11 project with a 50.1% interest alongside Petropars (19.9%), a 100% subsidiary of NIOC, and the Chinese state-owned oil and gas company CNPC (30%).

Total’s strategic partnership combines its technical experience with the financial autonomy of its investors and vast untapped reserves of Iranian natural gas.

“[Total] could not be immune to U.S. embargo due to investment in Iran’s oil sector. Over recent years, by setting up international consortiums, Total has managed to circumvent US’s D’Amato sanctions and join South Pars. CNPC’s presence is for the same reason of getting around the sanctions,” IRNA states

The trilateral partnership will also finance the project in Euros instead of dollars, which is the fundamental reason for the unilateral US sanctions.

With U.S. sanctions still in place prohibiting trading with Iran in dollars, Total will finance the project in euros from its own resources,” Reuters mentioned.

At the 1 June St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), CEO Patrick Pouyanne assured investors of his commitment to the project.

“It is worth taking the risk […] because it opens a huge market. We are perfectly conscious of some risks. We have taken into account (sanctions) snap-backs [and] regulation changes,” he stated.

The agreement will spark a European race for Iranian oil, which will guarantee longterm energy security, as most EU bureaucrats still wish to diversify (not divest) fuel sources away from Russia and find the Azerbaijani Shah Deniz project difficult and expensive to finance.

ADVFN explains further,

This contract, which has a 20-year duration, is the first Iranian Petroleum Contract (IPC) and is based on the […] Heads of Agreement signed on November 8, 2016.

Euronews also implies this as the source of last month’s Saudi-Qatari diplomatic row, as Qatar geographically shares the South Pars gas field with Iran,

South Pars is Iran’s section of the world’s biggest gas deposit, shared also with Qatar, and the Persian Gulf field lies at the center of a dispute embroiling Qatar and several Arab neighbors. Saudi Arabia severed commercial links with Qatar last month, accusing it of cozying up to arch-rival Iran. Qatar initially faced a Monday deadline to comply with 13 demands from a Saudi-led coalition, including a cutback in relations with Iran.

The Saudi monarchy now shares the fate of its American counterparts: self-imposed isolation due to economic meddling and bleeding profits due to new currencies entering the oil and gas sector.

In return for cooperating on the South Pars 11, France has offered Rouhani a spectacular deal: revitalising Tehran’s beleaguered airline industry and resuming flights after an 8-year suspension.

Zagros Airlines [will] buy 20 aircraft from the […] Airbus A320neo family and eight A330neo planes. Iran Airtour’s order would comprise 45 planes of the A320neo type,” FARS notes.

Iran’s former deputy Transport Minister Ali Abedzadeh also met last year with former French Transport Minister Alain Vidalies to discuss aviation training schemes along with the Airbus deal.

Finally, both France‘s AREP and Italy‘s Ferrovie dello Stato have signed 7 mln. and 1.3 bln. Euro agreements, respectively, to expand and modernise Iran’s ageing railway system.

To facilitate this, both President Macron and French Finance Minister Michel Sapin have prioritised normalising banking ties with Iran.

The French president vowed to do his utmost for deepening of economic, scientific and cultural relations with Iran during his tenure as French president,” FARS stated.

It’s our aim and our will to normalized banking ties with Iran even if it can’t be done in one day,” Sapin urged during the meeting.

By using the EU as a human shield for its sanctions regime, the United States has expedited its demise by speeding up global USD divestment.

It is of the utmost importance that the P5-1 (minus the US) begin using alternative payment systems such as the Chinese CIPS and Russian SPFS to facilitate their trade agreements.

If France wishes to redeem itself by leading the European pivot, it should facilitate and offer feedback on these new systems to accrue empirical data for other EU member states; other economic powers within the European Economic Area (EEA) will follow suit.

If the European Union, Russia, China and Iran can do this, the US sanctions will mean nothing.

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US continues to try to corner Russia with silence on Nukes

Moscow continues to be patient in what appears to be an ever more lopsided, intentional stonewalling situation provoked by the Americans.

Seraphim Hanisch

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TASS reported on March 17th that despite Russian readiness to discuss the present problem of strategic weapons deployments and disarmament with its counterparts in the United States, the Americans have not offered Russia any proposals to conduct such talks.

The Kremlin has not yet received any particular proposals on the talks over issues of strategic stability and disarmament from Washington, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS on Sunday when commenting on the statement made by US National Security Adviser John Bolton who did not rule out that such talks could be held with Russia and China.

“No intelligible proposals has been received [from the US] so far,” Peskov said.

Earlier Bolton said in an interview with radio host John Catsimatidis aired on Sunday that he considers it reasonable to include China in the negotiation on those issues with Russia as well.

“China is building up its nuclear capacity now. It’s one of the reasons why we’re looking at strengthening our national missile defense system here in the United States. And it’s one reason why, if we’re going to have another arms control negotiation, for example, with the Russians, it may make sense to include China in that discussion as well,” he said.

Mr. Bolton’s sense about this particular aspect of any arms discussions is correct, as China was not formerly a player in geopolitical affairs the way it is now. The now all-but-scrapped Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, was a treaty concluded by the US and the USSR leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, back in 1987. However, for in succeeding decades, most notably since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has been gradually building up weaponry in what appears to be an attempt to create a ring around the Russian Federation, a situation which is understandably increasingly untenable to the Russian government.

Both sides have accused one another of violating this treaty, and the mutual violations and recriminations on top of a host of other (largely fabricated) allegations against the Russian government’s activities led US President Donald Trump to announce his nation’s withdrawal from the treaty, formally suspending it on 1 February. Russian President Vladimir Putin followed suit by suspending it the very next day.

The INF eliminated all of both nations’ land based ballistic and cruise missiles that had a range between 500 and 1000 kilometers (310-620 miles) and also those that had ranges between 1000 and 5500 km (620-3420 miles) and their launchers.

This meant that basically all the missiles on both sides were withdrawn from Europe’s eastern regions – in fact, much, if not most, of Europe was missile-free as the result of this treaty. That is no longer the case today, and both nations’ accusations have provoked re-development of much more advanced systems than ever before, especially true considering the Russian progress into hypersonic and nuclear powered weapons that offer unlimited range.

This situation generates great concern in Europe, such that the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on both Moscow and Washington to salvage the INF and extend the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, or the New START as it is known.

“I call on the parties to the INF Treaty to use the time remaining to engage in sincere dialogue on the various issues that have been raised. It is very important that this treaty is preserved,” Guterres said at a session of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Monday.

He stressed that the demise of that accord would make the world more insecure and unstable, which “will be keenly felt in Europe.” “We simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War,” he said.

Guterres also urged the US and Russia to extend the START Treaty, which expires in 2021, and explore the possibility of further reducing their nuclear arsenals. “I also call on the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the so-called New START Treaty before it expires in 2021,” he said.

The UN chief recalled that the treaty “is the only international legal instrument limiting the size of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals” and that its inspection provisions “represent important confidence-building measures that benefit the entire world.”

Guterres recalled that the bilateral arms control process between Russia and the US “has been one of the hallmarks of international security for fifty years.”

“Thanks to their efforts, global stockpiles of nuclear weapons are now less than one-sixth of what they were in 1985,” the UN secretary-general pointed out.

The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty) entered into force on February 5, 2011. The document stipulates that seven years after its entry into effect each party should have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, as well as no more than 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and strategic bombers, and a total of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and strategic bombers. The new START Treaty obliges the parties to exchange information on the number of warheads and carriers twice a year.

The new START Treaty will remain in force during 10 years until 2021, unless superseded by a subsequent agreement. It may be extended for a period of no more than five years (that is, until 2026) upon the parties’ mutual consent. Moscow has repeatedly called on Washington not to delay the issue of extending the Treaty.

 

 

 

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Trump witch hunt dots connected: CNN to Steele to John McCain (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss documents released which show that Christopher Steele admitted to using posts by ‘random individuals’ on the CNN community website ‘iReport’ in order to back up his fabricated Trump dossier.

President Trump took note of Steele’s use of CNN citizen journalist posts, in a twitter tirade that blasted the British ex-spy for running with unverified community generated content from a now now-defunct ‘iReports’ website as part of his research.

Trump the proceeded to rip into late neocon Arizona Senator John McCain, tweeting that it was “just proven in court papers” that “last in his class” McCain sent the Steele’s dossier to media outlets in the hopes that they would print it prior to the 2016 US election.

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Via The Daily Caller

A federal court unsealed 43 pages Thursday of a deposition that former British spy Christopher Steele gave as part of a lawsuit over his infamous anti-Trump dossier.

To the disappointment of many observers, the full deposition was not unsealed in Thursday’s motion. Instead, portions of Steele’s interview, which he gave in London on July 13, 2018, were unsealed in separate court filings submitted in the lawsuit.

Steele’s full deposition totaled 145 pages. The portions published Thursday focus mainly on questions about the dossier’s claims about Aleksej Gubarev, a tech executive who Steele alleges took part in the hacking of Democrats’ computer systems.

Gubarev has vehemently denied the claim and sued Steele and BuzzFeed News, which published the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.

U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro, who handled the lawsuit, ordered a slew of previously sealed documents to be made public Thursday. Ungaro dismissed the lawsuit on Dec. 19 but did not weigh in on whether the dossier’s claims about Gubarev were accurate.

It is unclear whether Steele’s entire deposition will be released. A source familiar with Steele’s interview tempered expectations of any bombshells in the document, saying that Steele avoided going into detail about his efforts to create the dossier and his sources.

A deposition given by former State Department official David Kramer was perhaps the most enlightening document contained in the dump.

Kramer, a longtime associate of late Arizona Sen. John McCain, was BuzzFeed’s source for the dossier. Kramer shared the dossier with at least 11 other reporters, including CNN’s Carl Bernstein. (RELATED: John McCain Associate Gave Dossier To A Dozen Reporters)

Kramer obtained the dossier in late November 2016 after visiting Steele in London. Steele acknowledged that Kramer and McCain were picked as conduits to pass the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey. McCain met with Comey on Dec. 9, 2016 and provided all of the dossier’s memos that had been written up to that point.

“I think they felt a senior Republican was better to be the recipient of this rather than a Democrat because if it were a Democrat, I think that the view was that it would have been dismissed as a political attack,” Kramer said in the deposition when asked why Steele and his business partners at Fusion GPS wanted McCain to meet with Comey.

Via Washington Examiner

Former British spy Christopher Steele admitted that he relied on an unverified report on a CNN website for part of the “Trump dossier,” which was used as a basis for the FBI’s investigation into Trump.

According to deposition transcripts released this week, Steele said last year he used a 2009 report he found on CNN’s iReport website and said he wasn’t aware that submissions to that site are posted by members of the public and are not checked for accuracy.

web archive from July 29, 2009 shows that CNN described the site in this manner: “iReport.com is a user-generated site. That means the stories submitted by users are not edited, fact-checked, or screened before they post.”

In the dossier, Steele, a Cambridge-educated former MI6 officer, wrote about extensive allegations against Donald Trump, associates of his campaign, various Russians and other foreign nationals, and a variety of companies — including one called Webzilla. Those allegations would become part of an FBI investigation and would be used to apply for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

During his deposition, Steele was pressed on the methods he used to verify allegations made about Webzilla, which was thought to be used by Russia to hack into Democratic emails.

When asked if he discovered “anything of relevance concerning Webzilla” during the verification process, Steele replied: “We did. It was an article I have got here which was posted on July 28, 2009, on something called CNN iReport.”

“I do not have any particular knowledge of that,” Steele said when asked what was his understanding of how the iReport website worked.

When asked if he understood that content on the site was not generated by CNN reporters, he said, “I do not.” He was then asked: “Do you understand that they have no connection to any CNN reporters?” Steele replied, “I do not.”

He was pressed on this further: “Do you understand that CNN iReports are or were nothing more than any random individuals’ assertions on the Internet?” Steele replied: “No, I obviously presume that if it is on a CNN site that it may has some kind of CNN status. Albeit that it may be an independent person posting on the site.”

When asked about his methodology for searching for this information, Steele described it as “what we could call an open source search,” which he defined as “where you go into the Internet and you access material that is available on the Internet that is of relevance or reference to the issue at hand or the person under consideration.”

Steele said his dossier contained “raw intelligence” that he admitted could contain untrue or even “deliberately false information.”

Steele was hired by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS to investigate then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016. Fusion GPS was receiving funding at the time from the Clinton campaign and the DNC through the Perkins Coie law firm.

The series of memos that Steele would eventually compile became known as the “Trump Dossier.” The dossier was used in FISA applications to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

When asked whether he warned Fusion GPS that the information in the dossier might be “Russian disinformation,” Steele admitted that “a general understanding existed between us and Fusion … that all material contained this risk.”

Steele also described his interactions with Sen. John McCain’s aide, David Kramer, whose own deposition showed that he provided BuzzFeed with a copy of the dossier and had spoken with more than a dozen journalists about it.

“I provided copies of the December memo to Fusion GPS for onward passage to David Kramer at the request of Sen. John McCain,” Steele said. “Sen. McCain nominated him as the intermediary. I did not choose him as the intermediary.”

When asked if he told Kramer that he couldn’t “vouch for everything that was produced in the memos,” Steele replied, “Yes, with an emphasis on ‘everything.'”

When asked why he believed it was so important to provide the dossier to Sen. McCain, Steele said: “Because I judged it had national security implications for the United States and the West as a whole.”

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Trudeau’s Top Bureaucrat Unexpectedly Quits Amid Growing Corruption Scandal

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

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Via Zerohedge


Since it was exposed by a report in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper earlier this month, the scandal that’s become known as the SNC-Lavalin affair has already led to the firing of several of Trudeau’s close advisors and raised serious questions about whether the prime minister was complicit in pressuring the attorney general to offer a deferred prosecution agreement with a large, Quebec-based engineering firm.

And according to the first round of polls released since the affair exploded into public view…

…it could cost Trudeau his position as prime minister and return control to the conservatives, according to the CBC.

Campaign Research showed the Conservatives ahead with 37% to 32% for the Liberals, while both Ipsos and Léger put the margin at 36% to 34% in the Conservatives’ favour.Since December, when both polling firms were last in the field, the Liberals have lost one point in Campaign Research’s polling and four percentage points in the Ipsos poll, while the party is down five points since November in the Léger poll.

Meanwhile, as the noose tightens around Trudeau, on Monday another of the key Canadian government officials at the center of the SNC-Lavalin scandal has quit his post.

Michael Wernick, clerk of the privy council, the highest-ranking position in Canada’s civil service and a key aide to Justin Trudeau, announced his retirement Monday. Trudeau named Ian Shugart, currently deputy minister of foreign affairs, to replace him.

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

“It is now apparent that there is no path for me to have a relationship of mutual trust and respect with the leaders of the opposition parties,” he said, citing the need for impartiality on the issue of potential foreign interference. According to Bloomberg, the exact date of his departure is unclear.

As we reported in February, Canada’s former justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, quit following allegations that several key Trudeau government figures pressured her to intervene to end a criminal prosecution against Montreal-based construction giant SNC. Wernick was among those she named in saying the prime minister’s office wanted her to pursue a negotiated settlement.

Wernick has since twice spoken to a committee of lawmakers investigating the case, and during that testimony both defended his actions on the SNC file and warned about the risk of foreign election interference, as “blame Putin” has become traditional Plan B plan for most politicians seeing their careers go up in flames.

“I’m deeply concerned about my country right now, its politics and where it’s headed. I worry about foreign interference in the upcoming election,” he said in his first appearance before the House of Commons justice committee, before repeating the warning a second time this month. “If that was seen as alarmist, so be it. I was pulling the alarm. We need a public debate about foreign interference.”

Because somehow foreign interference has something to do with Wenick’s alleged corruption.

Incidentally, as we wonder what the real reason is behind Wernick’s swift departure, we are confident we will know soon enough.

Anyway, back to the now former clerk, who is meant to be non-partisan in service of the government of the day, also criticized comments by a Conservative senator and praised one of Trudeau’s cabinet ministers.

Wernick’s testimony was criticized as overly cozy with the ruling Liberals. Murray Rankin, a New Democratic Party lawmaker, asked the clerk how lawmakers could “do anything but conclude that you have in fact crossed the line into partisan activity?” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said he seemed “willing to interfere in partisan fashion for whoever is in power.”

Whatever Wernick’s true motives, he is the latest but not last in what will be a long line of cabinet departures as the SNC scandal exposes even more corruption in Trudeau’s cabinet (some have ironically pointed out that Canada’s “beloved” prime minister could be gone for actual corruption long before Trump). Trudeau had already lost a top political aide, Gerald Butts, to the scandal. A second minister, Jane Philpott, followed Wilson-Raybould in quitting cabinet.

Separately, on Monday, Trudeau appointed a former deputy prime minister in a Liberal government, Anne McLellan, as a special adviser to investigate some of the legal questions raised by the controversy. They include how governments should interact with the attorney general and whether that role should continue to be held by the justice minister.

As Bloomberg notes, the increasingly shaky Liberal government hasn’t ruled out helping SNC by ordering a deferred prosecution agreement in the corruption and bribery case, which centers around the company’s work in Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya. Doing so would allow the company to pay a fine and avoid any ban on receiving government contracts. That decision is up to the current attorney general, David Lametti; of course, such an action would only raise tensions amid speculation that the government is pushing for a specific political, and favorable for Trudeau, outcome.

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