Reluctant to proceed
Russia sanctions bill exposes Trump’s legislative tug of war
President Donald Trump is likely to sign a tough new sanctions bill that includes proposed measures targeting Russia — a remarkable concession that the president has yet to sell his party on his hopes for forging a warmer relationship with Moscow.
Trump’s vow to extend a hand of co-operation to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been met with resistance as skeptical lawmakers look to limit the executive power’s leeway to go easy on Moscow over its meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The House this week passed the legislation, 4193, to enact new sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, clearing the farreaching measure for action by the Senate, where its future is less certain. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., had said he wants to re-examine the bill’s North Korea portion, potentially delaying it before legislators take their August recess. But late Wednesday he announced that he sees “a path forward on legislation to sanction Iran, Russia and North Korea” following “very productive discussions.”
The proposed measures target Russia’s energy sector as part of legislation that prevents Trump from easing sanctions on Moscow without congressional approval.
Two administration officials say that Trump is likely to sign the bill, despite ongoing wrangling over language and bureaucracy. Faced with nearunanimous bipartisan support for the bill in both the House and Senate, the president finds his hands are tied, according to two administration officials and two advisers with knowledge of the discussions.
The officials added that the president has been reluctant to proceed with the bill, even after it was revised last week to include some changes that American and European companies sought to ensure that business deals were not stifled by new sanctions. Trump has privately expressed frustration over Congress’ ability to limit or override the power of the White House on national security matters, saying that it is complicating efforts to co-ordinate with allies — particularly those in Europe that have taken a different approach to sanctions.
The administration officials and advisers demanded anonymity to discuss the private sanctions deliberations. Trump’s new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, hedged the inevitability that Trump will sign, telling CNN’s New Day on Thursday that the president “may sign the sanctions exactly the way they are or he may veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds an umbrella as he looks at an outdoor fitness equipment installed on the Onezhskaya Embankment in Petrozavodsk, Russia, Wednesday.