President Donald Trump signed legislation on Wednesday implementing sanctions against Russia that he called "seriously flawed."
The bill — the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” — places sanctions on Russia as punishment for its efforts to interfere in November’s presidential election, Moscow’s military aggression in Ukraine, and its support of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. The bill also implements sanctions against Iran and North Korea. The legislation limits the Trump administration’s ability to lift the sanctions.
The Hill noted that Congress passed the bill with veto-proof majorities. It was approved by 98-2 votes in the Senate and 419-3 in the House.
In a written statement, Trump said that he favors “tough measures to punish and deter bad behavior by the rogue regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang.”
“I also support making clear that America will not tolerate interference in our democratic process, and that we will side with our allies and friends against Russian subversion and destabilization,” he said.
Acknowledging his hesitation to sign the bill, Trump said that he “expressed my concerns to Congress about the many ways it improperly encroaches on executive power, disadvantages American companies, and hurts the interests of our European allies.”
Trump said he signed the bill even though he considers it “seriously flawed” because “it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.”
“Congress could not even negotiate a health care bill after seven years of talking,” he said. “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. The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.”
Trump argued that “despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity.”
“It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States,” he said. “We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary.
“Further, the bill sends a clear message to Iran and North Korea that the American people will not tolerate their dangerous and destabilizing behavior,” he added. “America will continue to work closely with our friends and allies to check those countries malignant activities.”
Then Trump turned to his own resume.
“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.”