Trump approves of and intends to sign bill that will let Congress block the president from easing the penalties on Moscow, says press secretary
Donald Trump intends to sign a bill that imposes new sanctions on Russia and bars him from easing the penalties, the White House said Friday night.
The bill, which also includes new sanctions against Iran and North Korea, was passed by overwhelming majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate this week, but faced opposition from the Trump administration. The White House objected to a provision that barred him from lifting or suspending the sanctions without congressional approval.
President Donald J Trump read early drafts of the bill and negotiated regarding critical elements of it, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. He has now reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it.
The bills passage elicited a strong reaction from Russia even before Trump indicated his support. On Friday, Russia ordered the US to reduce its diplomatic presence in the country to 455 personnel, a move that could result in more than 600 embassy employees being forced to leave. The Russian foreign ministry also announced that it would close an embassy summer residence near Moscow and rescind access to warehouse space.
Its impossible to endlessly tolerate this kind of insolence towards our country, Vladimir Putin said Thursday, referring to the sanctions. This practice is unacceptable it destroys international relations and international law.
The bill includes the second round of sanctions aimed at punishing Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. On 30 December, then-president Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the country and seized two Russian diplomatic compounds.
Trump has repeatedly expressed a desire to improve diplomatic relations with Russia a position made awkward by the ongoing investigations into possible collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin during the election.
But the lopsided votes in the House and Senate forced his hand with both bodies having more than enough votes to override a veto.
I cannot imagine anybody is seriously thinking about vetoing this bill, said Bob Corker, the Republican senator from Tennessee and chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee. Its not good for any president and most governors dont like to veto things that are going to be overridden. It shows a diminishment of their authority. I just dont think thats a good way to start off as president.
The sanctions have been criticized by France, Germany and the European Union over concerns that they could affect European businesses, including a gas pipeline connecting Russia and Germany.
America first cannot mean that Europes interests come last, said Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European commission.