President Trump on Wednesday signed a bill imposing sanctions on Russia, after the legislation overwhelmingly passed the House and Senate.
The stiff financial sanctions were championed by lawmakers in both parties, and Trump’s signature could escalate tensions with Moscow — which already has ordered a reduction in the number of U.S. diplomats in Russia.
The bill itself targets Iran and North Korea as well as Russia.
But a cornerstone of the legislation was a provision barring Trump from easing or waiving the additional penalties on Russia unless Congress agrees. The provisions were included to assuage concerns among lawmakers that the president’s push for better relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin might lead him to relax the penalties without first securing concessions from the Kremlin.
Trump made clear his concerns about such provisions in a written statement released by the White House on Wednesday. He said while he favors “tough measures to punish and deter aggressive and destabilizing behavior” in all three countries, “this legislation is significantly flawed.”
“In its haste to pass this legislation, the Congress included a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions,” he said, outlining numerous alleged constitutional conflicts.
Vice President Pence, in an interview with Fox News during a visit to Montenegro where he is meeting with allies, said despite the president’s concerns the legislation highlights his commitment to holding these nations accountable.
“President Trump believes whatever frustration that we feel for Congress limiting his authority … that, on balance, this legislation reaffirms the president’s strong commitment to ongoing sanctions with Russia, to make it clear their…