Re­luc­tant to pro­ceed

Rus­sia sanc­tions bill ex­poses Trump’s leg­isla­tive tug of war

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD - BY VI­VIAN SALAMA

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.

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