Gorka appears to acknowledge WH is considering handing back Russian compounds

Greg Nash

Deputy assistant to President Trump Sebastian Gorka on Thursday appeared to acknowledge that the Trump administration is weighing returning seized compounds in the U.S. to Russia.

“We want to give collaboration, cooperation, a chance. The fact is we may not share the same philosophy, we may not share the same type of statesman view of the world, but the fact is there are some issues of common concern,” Gorka told CNN’s Jake Tapper, when asked why the Trump administration would consider handing the diplomatic compounds back.

{mosads}“And if we see good acts of faith, remember more than 400,000 people have been killed in Syria. That is horrific. If we can see acts of good faith come out of the Kremlin with regards to things such as a cease-fire, then perhaps there is a chance for what [Secretary of State] Rex Tillerson wants to see happen, which is an improvement for relations between our two capitals,” he continued.

Gorka’s remarks come after reports surfaced saying the White House was considering returning two diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York seized by the Obama administration as punishment for the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The Washington Post, which first reported the development, said the White House originally floated the idea of returning the compounds in exchange for permission to start construction back up at the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg, however Tillerson told Russian diplomats the compounds were no longer related to future construction of the consulate.

A former Obama administration adviser told the publication they had “no intention” of ever giving the compounds back to Russia.

A bipartisan group of senators, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Kirsten Gilibrand (D-N.Y.) have since spoken out against the proposition.

“These properties were seized because 17 U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that Russia used covert cyberattacks, espionage, and harmful propaganda to try and undermine our democracy, in addition to the fact that U.S. diplomats in Russia faced repeated harassment from Russian security services,” the senators wrote in a letter to Trump.

“We need to stand strong and stand united so that Russia and other nations know that this aggression will not go unchecked.”

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper also ripped the notion of returning the compounds last week. 

“Those compounds, particularly the one in Maryland, was a major intelligence operation, collecting intelligence against us. And so I don’t see what the Russians have done that would merit a return,” Clapper told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

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