Donald Trump signed a Russia sanction bill.

Photo via Republic of Korea/Flickr Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC-BY-SA) Remix by Jason Reed

Trump attacks Congress after signing ‘seriously flawed’ Russia sanctions bill

'As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.'


Andrew Wyrich


Posted on Aug 2, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 9:55 pm CDT

President Donald Trump on Wednesday begrudgingly signed into law a bipartisan bill that imposes stricter sanctions on Russia, calling the legislation “seriously flawed” and using it as an opportunity to attack Congress.

The new law, which keeps in place sanctions former President Barack Obama put on Russia last year, is meant as punishment for Russia’s interference in the 2016 election—a conclusion that Trump has repeatedly dismissed despite being confirmed by multiple United States intelligence agencies. The move has already raised tensions between the United States and Russia, as Moscow has begun to push back.

Under the new law, the White House’s ability to lift the sanctions against Moscow would be restricted. The bill passed through both houses of Congress with near-unanimous consent last week.

The bill marks Trump’s biggest legislative accomplishment of his presidency despite refusing to take a hardline against Russia—and actively lobbying against the bill’s passage.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said neither he nor Trump was happy with the sanctions bill.

“The action by the Congress to put these sanctions in place and the way they did, neither the president nor I were very happy about that,” Tillerson reportedly said. “We were clear that we didn’t think it was going to be helpful to our efforts, but that’s the decision they made. They made it in a very overwhelming way. I think the president accepts that.”

In a peculiar move, the White House issued two similar but notably different statements from Trump regarding the sanctions law. In the second statement, the president asserted that the law is “seriously flawed” because it “encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.”

“Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking.  By limiting the Executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together,” Trump continued. “ The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President.  This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.”

In conclusion, Trump said: “I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars.  That is a big part of the reason I was elected.  As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”

In January, U.S. intelligence agencies said Russia concocted “influence campaigns” against the United States during the 2016 presidential campaign. As a result, the Obama administration seized two diplomatic compounds, and reports suggested that the Trump administration may return them to Russian officials.

In response to the sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the U.S. to cut 755 employees from its diplomatic staff in Russia—the most significant diplomatic rift between the two countries since the days of the Cold War.

Share this article
*First Published: Aug 2, 2017, 11:36 am CDT