- The Washington Times - Friday, December 30, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump’s future White House counselor told CNN Thursday night that the Obama administration’s new Russian sanctions may be an attempt to diplomatically “box in” the Republican.

Kellyanne Conway agreed to an interview with CNN’s Kate Bolduan shortly after President Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of being spies, while also slapping nine entities and individuals with sanctions. In response to a question about Mr. Trump possibly reversing the moves once he is sworn into office on Jan. 20, Mrs. Conway cited an analysis by The New York Times.

“Even those who are sympathetic to President Obama are saying that part of the reason he did this today was to, quote, ‘box in’ President-elect Trump,” Mrs. Conway said. “That would be very unfortunate if politics were the motivating factor here. We can’t help but think that is often true. Even The New York Times characterized it as such that maybe this is an attempt to box him in to see what he’ll do as president. That’s not the way that peaceful transitions of administrations work in our great democracy.”

The president-elect’s adviser stuck to the position when challenged.

“I was quoting David Sanger’s piece in The New York Times,” Mrs. Conway said. “I am merely saying that if The New York Times’ report is true and credible that that would be an unfortunate rationale here on top of, on top of any other rationales.”

Moscow responded to Mr. Obama’s sanctions by condemning the decision but adding that American diplomats would not be expelled.

SEE ALSO: Russia mocks Obama’s ‘lame duck’ status after new sanctions imposed, diplomats expelled

Russian President Vladimir Putin also said in a statement on Friday that Mr. Obama was trying to “undermine Russian-American relations.”

The White House insists it acted after “repeated private and public warnings” regarding alleged intrusions into the U.S. political process during the 2016 presidential election.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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