Congress put a Russia sanctions bill on Donald Trump’s desk, hoping to punish Putin and co. for influencing the 2016 election, and today, amid much grumbling, Trump signed it into law (the bill also issues sanctions against Iran and North Korea). Per NPR, Trump really didn’t like the bill, which targets the mining and oil industries in Russia:
He also said, however, that he has a number of qualms with the “seriously flawed” bill. Most notably, with the fact that it restricts his ability to ease sanctions without Congress’ involvement. To waive sanctions, Trump has to send Congress a report explaining and justifying his decision, and lawmakers would then get 30 days to decide whether to allow the waiver.
“The bill remains seriously flawed — particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate,” Trump said, adding, “The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.”
Putin retaliated pre-emptively by booting 755 U.S. embassy and consulate employees, and with huge majorities approving the sanctions in Congress (98-2 in the Senate, 419-3 in the House), Trump was left with little choice but to move forward.
According to Jon Cooper, Chairman of the Democratic Coalition, a White House source indicates that Trump spoke with Putin before signing the bill:
The White House has issued a denial, which some are already meeting with skepticism:
Kellyanne Conway offered a “no comment”:
More to come, surely…meanwhile, here's what Russia had to say, via Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: