Donald Trump signs ‘seriously flawed’ bill imposing sanctions on Russia
- Trump calls for inquiry into alleged Russian interference in ‘witch-hunt’ polls
- Russia retaliated against the United States for new sanctions
- He said he would order the US Embassy to cut staff by 755
President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia, ending immediate hopes that he might be able to reset US relations with the Kremlin as Congress rolled back opposition to the restriction provisions on its executive power.
Trump’s reluctant signing of the law came nearly a week after it was approved by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Senate and after a similar majority in the House. The president issued two statements expressing his concerns about the bill, which he described as “seriously flawed,” mainly because it limits his ability to negotiate sanctions without congressional approval.
“By limiting the flexibility of the executive, this bill makes it more difficult for the United States to make good deals for the American people and will bring China, Russia and North Korea much closer,” Trump said in a press release Wednesday morning. “The drafters of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President.
“This bill will prove the wisdom of this choice,” he added.
The signing declaration, long a controversial tool of the president, expresses the president’s concern about the legislation, but does nothing to stop or amend it. The president had the ability to veto it, but it would likely have been overruled by majorities in Congress.
The solidarity of lawmakers in tying Trump’s hands on this issue reflects growing concern about the administration’s stance toward Russia, which critics have called naïve. The new sanctions against Russia extend the measures taken by the Obama administration to punish the Kremlin for its alleged efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. But Trump continued to doubt Russia’s responsibility and called the inquiries of Congress and of the special council on Russian interference in a “witch hunt”.
The administration’s lobbying of public and private lawmakers to withdraw the bill’s requirement that Congress review any attempt by the president to change sanctions against Moscow ultimately fell on deaf ears. The measure imposes a 30-day review period to give Congress a chance to vote against any of the president’s proposed changes to sanctions against Russia before they can be implemented.
Despite Trump’s considerable objections, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Praised the bill becoming law.
“Today the United States sent a powerful message to our adversaries that they will be held accountable for their actions,” Ryan said. “These sanctions are aimed directly at the destructive and destabilizing activities of Iran, Russia and North Korea.
“We will continue to use all the instruments of American power to defend this nation and the people we serve,” he added.
Trump said he signed the bill despite his reservations in the name of “national unity.” In a second statement accompanying his signing of the legislation, Trump called some of the provisions of the legislation “clearly unconstitutional.”
And in a sharp jab against lawmakers in his own party, he questioned Congress ‘ability to negotiate sanctions due to its inability to approve Republicans’ health care legislation.
“The bill remains gravely flawed – especially because it encroaches on the executive’s bargaining power,” Trump said. “Congress couldn’t even negotiate a health bill after seven years of discussions.”
According to constitutional law experts, Congress has legitimately asserted its own constitutional powers to control executive power, even on matters of national security.
Constitutional and national security expert Michael Glennon of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy said Trump’s statement was a “blatant misreading” of the case law he cited in his signing statement to support his claim that the congressional review provision had unconstitutionally deprived him of his power. to negotiate.
“This is obviously a misinterpretation of its constitutional authority,” said Glennon. “Congress has very broad authority over foreign trade – it explicitly has the power to regulate trade with foreign nations.
“He could have, if he wished, imposed these sanctions without giving the president any power to derogate,” he added.
Russia has already retaliated against the United States for the new sanctions, announcing that it would order the American embassy to reduce its staff by 755 people and seize American diplomatic properties.
Trump noted that he supported tough measures to punish the three regimes and said he would honor the review period prescribed in the bill.
But in a potential warning to lawmakers that he may not abide by these parts of the law, Trump added that he would “carefully and respectfully consider” other provisions that direct the administration to undertake diplomatic initiatives and oblige the administration to refuse entry into the country. United States of some foreigners, without exception for diplomats.
“My administration will carefully and respectfully consider the preferences expressed by Congress in these various provisions and implement them in a manner consistent with the President’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations,” Trump said.
So far, Trump’s desire to reset relations with Russia has hit a major slowdown around the same time Americans are expressing growing support for an adversarial approach to the country, a poll released Wednesday found. by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
The poll found that 53% actively support efforts to limit Russia’s power, compared to 43% who favor friendly cooperation and engagement, a sharp reversal from last year, while 58% favored to cooperative efforts. More than 4 in 10 say Russia’s influence in the US election poses a “critical threat” to the country.
The poll finds mixed support for imposing additional penalties, with 38% saying they should be increased and 41% saying they should be kept about the same. Much less, 17%, said the United States should reduce or eliminate sanctions against Russia, according to the survey of a random sample of 2,020 adults from June 27 to July 19.
In addition to concerns about the revision component of the bill, the administration has also expressed concern about the impact of the bill on American businesses in Russia.
In a statement late last week, the White House signaled that Trump would eventually sign the measure, and a White House official added that the administration had worked to renegotiate critical elements of it.
Yet even as Russian President Vladimir Putin moved swiftly to retaliate against the United States, Trump has issued no statement – written or otherwise – about the Kremlin’s actions.
Trump has argued, however, that he can negotiate deals on behalf of the American people much better than Congress.
“I have built a really great multi-billion dollar business,” Trump said. “That’s a big part of why I was elected.
“As president, I can make much better deals with foreign countries than with Congress,” he added.
Karoun Demirjian and Scott Clement contributed to this report.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)