President Donald Trump’s administration is preparing to return two diplomatic compounds to Russia after they were taken away by President Barack Obama as punishment for the country interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
The Trump administration told Russian officials early last month that it would consider allowing them back into the compounds if they would lift a freeze on the United States building a consulate in St. Petersburg, the Washington Post reported. However, shortly after, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that they had “dropped any linkage” between the compounds and the consulate, according to the Post.
Obama said the two compounds, located in New York and Maryland, were being used by Russian officials for “intelligence-related purposes” before evicting them in late December.
According to the Post, the Trump administration is considering putting restrictions on the properties if they are handed over, including removing diplomatic immunity, which would allow U.S. law enforcement to enter the properties.
The idea of giving back the properties comes amid growing probes by United States intelligence officials and congressional leaders into Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election and any possible ties Moscow had with Trump’s campaign.
The sprawling investigations—there are five separate investigations happening concurrently—are expected to reach somewhat of a milestone as early as next week when former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee, in what would be his first public comments since Trump abruptly fired him as the agency he oversaw was investigating Trump’s campaign.