President Donald Trump continued to fume this morning about a veto-proof bill that thwarted his ability to lift congressionally-mandated sanctions on Russia on his own.
The president signed the bill because he agrees with the punishing actions included in it on principle, the White House said Wednesday after Trump forcefully denounced provisions that checked his authority.
Still seething, Trump tweeted on Thursday morning that Congress was to blame for the strain in relations with Vladimir Putin’s government.
‘Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!’ he said.
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President Donald Trump continued to fume this morning about a veto-proof bill that thwarted his ability to lift congressionally-mandated sanctions on Russia. He’s pictured with Putin at the G20 summit last month
Still seething, Trump tweeted on Thursday morning that Congress was to blame for the strain in relations with Vladimir Putin’s government
Trump has waffled on Russia’s involvement in the cyber attacks, saying more than once that it was probably the Kremlin, or another actor entirely – ‘nobody really knows for sure’
The sanctions that Congress cemented in the bill that Trump signed against his will were in retaliation for hacking and leaking schemes and other election meddling that US intelligence agencies have concluded were masterminded by the Russians.
Trump has waffled on Russia’s involvement in the cyber attacks, saying more than once that it was probably the Kremlin, or another actor entirely – ‘nobody really knows for sure.’
Four US intelligence agencies have said they are certain that Putin’s government was behind the cyber assaults. The Kremlin wanted to undermine confidence in the United States democratic process, they’ve said.
Trump claims that he pressed Putin on the issue twice during a recent summit, even though he argued at a press conference two days before that Russia may not have been the culprit.
‘The president favors tough measures to punish and deter the bad behavior of the rogue regimes in Iran and North Korea,’ White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters, ‘and he also sent a clear signal that we won’t tolerate interference in our democratic process by Russia.’
He signed the bill away from the cameras and sent out statement revealing the depths of his unhappiness.
Trump said despite some changes, ‘the bill remains seriously flawed – particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.’
He called parts of it ‘unconstitutional’ and signaled fresh tensions with Republicans by criticizing their failure to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Trump also said in a lengthy press statement that the White House sent out alongside a formal signing statement that he was ‘signing this bill for the sake of national unity.’
‘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,’ he said.
‘The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice,’ Trump said in the statement.
Trump said the legislation ‘represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States.
‘We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary.’
In a message to Congress in response to the bill, Trump singled out provisions his lawyers considers in conflict with Supreme Court case law – and asserts his own latitude to carry out the law as he sees fit.
‘My Administration will give careful and respectful consideration to the preferences expressed by the Congress in these various provisions,’ the president said in one point – in language certain to irk lawmakers who consider the law much more than a preference.
‘My administration … 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,’ he said.
The president also complained about what he said were ‘clearly unconstitutional provisions’ in the legislation relating to presidential powers to shape foreign policy.
‘The president favors tough measures to punish and deter the bad behavior of the rogue regimes in Iran and North Korea,’ White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters, ‘and he also sent a clear signal that we won’t tolerate interference in our democratic process by Russia’
The bill passed Congress by overwhelming margins sufficient to override a presidential veto. Trump could have allowed the bill to become law without his signature, but decided against it.
The White House had lobbied to water down restrictions in the bill.
It contains language meant to prevent the president from lifting them without approval from Congress – provisions that got drafted amid concerns Trump would lift or limit sanctions amid his frequent praise for Putin and desire to improve ties between the two powers.
Tillerson told reporters he shared misgivings with the president, as they try to improve relations with Russia.
‘Neither the president nor I are very happy about that,’ Tillerson said. ‘We were clear that we didn’t think that was going to be helpful to our efforts, but that’s the decision they made.’
The FBI and congressional intelligence panels are probing Trump campaign connections to Russians during the election.
Trump during the campaign called repeatedly for better relations with Russia. The U.S. intelligence community concluded that the Russian government backed a campaign to interfere in the presidential election.
Despite communications with Putin, capped off by two one-on-one meetings in Europe, Trump has struggled to meet his goal.
Putin said last weekend that Russia would expel more than 700 U.S. diplomats from Russia in retaliation for the sanctions legislation.
A report said Wednesday that Trump had talked to Putin on the phone before he put pen to paper, but Huckabee Sanders told reporters it was incorrect.