By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, Kremlin.ru
August 4, 2017 (Washington D.C.) -- President Donald Trump has signed into law a bill imposing sanctions against Russia over its efforts to meddle in the U.S. election and Russian aggression in the Ukraine.
The bill also prohibits President Trump from easing those sanctions without Congressional approval. The action is a stinging rebuke to Trump, who has previously opposed sanctions and drawn criticism for his close ties to Russia and praise for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
Both houses passed the bill with a strong veto-proof majority, 98 to 2 in the Senate and 419 to 3 in the House. San Diego’s Congressional representatives all voted for the sanctions, including Democrats Susan Davis, Scott Peters and Juan Vargas as well as Republicans Darrell Issa and Duncan Hunter, the other normally a staunch Trump supporter.
Trump said he signed the measure to show national unity, but slammed Congress, calling the bill “seriously flawed—particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate” and suggested that some provisions may be unconstitutional in limiting presidential power to undertake diplomatic initiatives.
His signing statement ended with a veiled threat of a possible legal challenge to the Congressional action. Trump concluded, “Finally, my Administration particularly expects the Congress to refrain from using this flawed bill to hinder our important work with European allies to resolve the conflict in Ukraine and from using it to hinder our efforts to address any unintended consequences it may have for American businesses, our friends, or our allies.”
The bill was introduced amid a deepening probe by special prosecutor Robert Mueller into ties between Russia and members of Trump’s campaign, as well as key administration officials and Trump family members. Recent media reports, admissions by Trump’s son and others have revealed that Trump’s denials during his campaign of any ties to Russia were false.
In fact, Trump and his team including his son, son-in-law, campaign manager and attorney general have had numerous contacts with Russians. Trump himself has an extensive history of business dealings with Russians, including prominent Russian oligarchs.
The New Republic, in a well-documented report titled “Trump’s Russian Laundromat” reveals that Trump Tower and other Trump properties were used by Russian organized crime to launder money over many years—a practice that was under investigation by a New York U.S. attorney who was recently fired by Trump.
In addition to sanctions against Russia, the Congressional bill also includes new sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear program and Iran for ballistic missile tests.