Trump is put in place by Congress
Sanctions signed into law
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump grudgingly signed into law new sanctions against Russia on Wednesday, a move Moscow said amounted to a full-scale trade war and an end to hopes for better ties with the Trump administration.
Congress overwhelmingly approved the legislation last week, passing a measure that conflicts with the Republican president’s desire to improve relations with Moscow. While Trump signed the bill, he criticised it as infringing on his powers to shape foreign policy and said he could make “far better deals” with governments than Congress could.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called the sanctions tantamount to a “full-scale trade war”, adding in a Facebook post that they showed the Trump administration had demonstrated “utter powerlessness”.
“The hope that our relations with the new American administration would improve is finished,” he wrote.
Trump’s litany of concerns about the sanctions, which also affect Iran and North Korea, nonetheless raised the question of how vigorously Trump will enforce them and pursue action against Russia.
“While I favour tough measures to punish and deter aggressive and destabilising behaviour by Iran, North Korea, and Russia, this legislation is significantly flawed,” Trump said in a message to lawmakers.
The new law allows Congress to stop any effort by Trump to ease sanctions on Russia.
Trump said in a separate statement that he was signing the measure “for the sake of national unity” even though he saw problems with it.
His hands were tied after the Republican-controlled Congress approved the legislation by such a large margin last week that any presidential veto of the bill would have been overridden. Congress passed the measure to punish Russia over interference in the 2016 US presidential election and the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.
The legislation has provoked countermeasures by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said yesterday the US diplomatic mission in Russia must reduce its staff by 755 people. Russia is also seizing two properties near Moscow used by American diplomats.
Trump has repeatedly said he wants to improve relations with Russia. That desire has been stymied by US intelligence agencies’ findings that Russia interfered to help the Republican against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
US congressional panels and a special counsel are investigating. Moscow denies any meddling and Trump denies any collusion by his campaign.
Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan welcomed the signing, saying that it would send “a powerful message to our adversaries that they will be held accountable for their actions.”
But Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he was disappointed that Trump chose to sign the legislation behind closed doors, without the fanfare of television cameras and reporters present.
“The fact (that) he does this kind of quietly I think reinforces the narrative that the Trump administration is not really serious about pushing back on Russia,” Graham said.
In his statements about the sanctions law, Trump complained about what he said was congressional infringement on the president’s constitutional power to set foreign policy. – Reuters
Putin said yesterday the US diplomatic mission in Russia must reduce its staff by 755 people.
US President Donald Trump has allegedly grudgingly signed a sanctions bill aimed predominantly at Russia, Iran and North Korea into law last week on Wednesday.