Tuesday, 24 October, 2017

Oklahoma congressmen back Russian Federation sanctions that could handcuff Trump

US House of Representatives approves new sanctions Berks County lawmakers support sanctions against Russia, North Korea, Iran
Juana Turner | 01 August, 2017, 22:50

The Senate has approved new sanctions to punish Russian Federation for its meddling in the 2016 election in an overwhelming vote, sending the bill to the White House and setting the stage for a potential showdown with President Trump.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the bill would address the failure so far to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for what he described as a "stunning breach" of a sovereign nation's elections.

"Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking ahead of the Senate vote, accused US lawmakers of 'insolence' and promised retaliation if the sanctions become law", as NPR's Scott Neuman reported Thursday.

The bill gives Congress the power to block any effort by the White House to weaken sanctions on Russian Federation, offering a direct challenge to President Donald Trump's authority, CNN reported.

Trump is also under intense pressure to sign the bill due to ongoing investigations by Congress and special prosecutor Robert Mueller into possible collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian Federation.

The bill puts Trump in a bind over the potential lifting of any sanctions on Russian Federation - a traditionally presidential decision - by stipulating that the Congress would have to approve any such lifting before it can take place.

Corker, a longtime ally of the Trump administration, said he has talked to both the president and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about the sanctions bill in recent days and "gotten no indication from them that they plan to veto it". "Now is a critical time to act decisively and impose sanctions on these countries, and I hope the President signs this commonsense legislation into law quickly".

Key among the provisions is one that handcuffs Mr. Trump by complicating any unilateral efforts to ease sanctions against Moscow in future.

He has repeatedly cast doubt on the conclusion of USA intelligence agencies that Russia sought to tip the election in his favour and has blasted as a "witch hunt" investigations into the extent of Russian interference and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.

Obama expelled members of Russia's diplomatic corps, ordered Russia's Foreign Ministry to vacate two compounds it owns in Maryland and NY and sanctioned Russia's mining and oil industries.

Senator Mike Enzi said the upper house would vote on the legislation, which also imposes sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

"He may decide to veto the sanctions and be tougher on the Russians than the Congress", Scaramucci told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day".

Putin said in an interview with Vesti TV released on Sunday that 755 us diplomatic and technical staff would have to leave Russian Federation by September 1.

The legislation puts Trump in a hard position. The Trump administration has suggested suspending some US sanctions against Russian entities to improve diplomatic relations between the two countries. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters: "I would guess that he (Trump) will sign it".

If Trump were to veto the bill, the House vote is well above the two-thirds margin needed for an override.

"The countries could overcome more critical problems by taking joint action", Putin said.

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