Trump signs sanc­tions bill against Rus­sians re­luc­tantly

Sees af­front to ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY S.A. MILLER

Pres­i­dent Trump re­luc­tantly signed a Rus­sian sanc­tions bill Wed­nes­day, bend­ing to the will of Congress as he slammed the leg­is­la­tion as “sig­nif­i­cantly flawed” and an af­front to his ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers.

The law pun­ishes Rus­sia, Iran and North Korea. But un­sub­stan­ti­ated ac­cu­sa­tions of Trump cam­paign col­lu­sion with Moscow loomed large be­cause law­mak­ers, dis­trust­ful of the pres­i­dent’s re­la­tion­ship with the Krem­lin, cur­tailed his abil­ity to uni­lat­er­ally lift the sanc­tions.

In a sign­ing state­ment, Mr. Trump said the bill con­tained “clearly un­con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sions,” and he chided law­mak­ers for ham­string­ing his ex­ec­u­tive au­thor­ity.

He said it would “dis­place the Pres­i­dent’s ex­clu­sive con­sti­tu­tional au­thor­ity to rec­og­nize for­eign gov­ern­ments.”

“While I fa­vor tough mea­sures to pun­ish and de­ter ag­gres­sive and desta­bi­liz­ing be­hav­ior by Iran, North Korea and Rus­sia, this leg­is­la­tion is sig­nif­i­cantly flawed,” he said in the mes­sage to Capi­tol Hill.

The check on his ex­ec­u­tive power raised doubts about whether Mr. Trump would sign the bill. He was forced to put his name on it, how­ever, when the leg­is­la­tion passed with veto-proof ma­jori­ties in both Repub­li­can-run cham­bers of Congress.

The law cod­i­fies fi­nan­cial and diplo­matic sanc­tions for Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion of Crimea and in­ter­fer­ence in the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, as well as mea­sures

tar­get­ing Iran and North Korea for their desta­bi­liz­ing be­hav­ior on the world stage.

The law also re­quires con­gres­sional re­view for any sanc­tions that the White House wants to lift.

Mr. Putin has re­tal­i­ated against the leg­is­la­tion by ex­pelling 755 Amer­i­can diplo­mats from Rus­sia, as re­la­tions be­tween Washington and Moscow be­come strained.

“It’s im­pos­si­ble to end­lessly tol­er­ate this kind of in­so­lence to­ward our coun­try,” Mr. Putin said af­ter the House passed the bill. “This prac­tice is un­ac­cept­able. It de­stroys in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and in­ter­na­tional law.”

Af­ter Mr. Trump signed the bill into law, the Rus­sian For­eign Min­istry said fur­ther coun­ter­mea­sures were pos­si­ble.

Rus­sian Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev said on Face­book that the U.S. had de­clared a “full-scale trade war.”

He also taunted Mr. Trump, call­ing him weak and say­ing the U.S. es­tab­lish­ment had de­feated him.

“Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has demon­strated to­tal im­po­tence by sur­ren­der­ing its ex­ec­u­tive au­thor­ity to Congress in the most hu­mil­i­at­ing way,” Mr. Medvedev wrote.

He said the “Amer­i­can es­tab­lish­ment has won an over­whelm­ing vic­tory over Trump” and de­scribes the sanc­tions as “yet an­other way to put Trump in his place.”

Democrats’ al­le­ga­tions that the Trump cam­paign col­luded with Rus­sia, although un­proved, have dogged Mr. Trump since he took of­fice, over­shad­owed his ac­com­plish­ments and dis­tracted from his agenda.

The is­sue is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by a Jus­tice De­part­ment spe­cial coun­sel, the FBI and House and Se­nate com­mit­tees.

Mr. Trump’s dis­dain for the leg­is­la­tion and frus­tra­tion with Congress was pal­pa­ble in the sign­ing state­ment.

He said the law ham­strings his pres­i­den­tial au­thor­ity and threat­ens the abil­ity of the U.S. to work with al­lies to con­front Rus­sia. He also voiced con­cern about the po­ten­tial dam­age to U.S. busi­ness in­ter­ests in tar­geted re­gions.

Mr. Trump said he would im­ple­ment the law as ap­pro­pri­ate, a stance that echoed Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s hos­tile sign­ing state­ments when he clashed with Congress.

“My Ad­min­is­tra­tion will give care­ful and re­spect­ful con­sid­er­a­tion to the pref­er­ences ex­pressed by the Congress in these var­i­ous pro­vi­sions and will im­ple­ment them in a man­ner con­sis­tent with the Pres­i­dent’s con­sti­tu­tional au­thor­ity to con­duct for­eign re­la­tions,” Mr. Trump wrote.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Demo­crat, nee­dled Mr. Trump about the sign­ing state­ment, say­ing the pres­i­dent had been “far too soft on Rus­sia” and that Congress would be keep­ing an eye on him.

“The pres­i­dent sign­ing the leg­is­la­tion, although be­grudg­ingly, was the right thing to do,” Mr. Schumer said. “The pres­i­dent’s ex­tended sign­ing state­ment, how­ever, demon­strates that Congress is go­ing to need to keep a sharp eye on this ad­min­is­tra­tion’s im­ple­men­ta­tion of this crit­i­cal law and any ac­tions it takes with re­spect to Ukraine.”

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can, said the law sent a strong mes­sage to Amer­ica’s foes that “they will be held ac­count­able for their ac­tions.”

The brief state­ment did not men­tion Mr. Trump’s sign­ing state­ment. He said the U.S. will use “every in­stru­ment of Amer­i­can power to de­fend this na­tion and the peo­ple we serve.”

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