The Trump administration on Wednesday announced new sanctions on individuals affiliated with the International Criminal Court as a result of the court's efforts to investigate and prosecute alleged U.S. war crimes.
The United States and ICC have been locked in a tense standoff over the court's investigations into war crimes it claims American soldiers perpetrated in the Middle East. Similar investigations have been ongoing against Israel, which has joined with the Trump administration in opposing the court's actions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States has designated ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko, head of the court's Jurisdiction, Complementarity, and Cooperation Division, for assisting in investigations into the United States. Pompeo said that "any individuals and entities that continue to materially support those individuals risk exposure to sanctions as well."
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Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), a former Army captain who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, lauded the State Department's new sanctions.
"The United States will not tolerate political attacks against its service members by the ICC, a court which has no jurisdiction over Americans," Cotton said. "By sanctioning prosecutor Bensouda, the administration is defending American sovereignty and ensuring the safety and security of our citizens."
The designations mark a significant escalation in the United States' battle against ICC investigations, which the Trump administration views as politically motivated. The administration is at odds with many international bodies, including the United Nations Security Council and the World Health Organization, which America accuses of helping China obfuscate information about the coronavirus pandemic. At the U.N., the administration has warred with traditional allies France, Germany, and the United Kingdom over the reimposition of economic sanctions on Iran. All of these European powers balked at U.S. efforts to extend an arms ban on the country.
The Trump administration authorized economic sanctions against the ICC and foreign individuals affiliated with efforts to investigate American personnel and those of its allies, including Israel. In addition to Wednesday's sanctions, the administration restricted the issuance of visas for any individual involved in the ICC's investigation.
The Washington Free Beacon first reported in May that the ICC was working on its case against the United States with several organizations and individuals tied to terrorism.