Donald Trump blasted the Russian sanctions bill he signed into law as “significantly flawed” and “unconstitutional.” He signed the bill into law in secret after being dragged kicking and screaming to avoid the embarrassment veto override by Congress.
He also managed to brag about his so-called deal making skills, saying, “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.” Um, he couldn’t even get Obamacare repeal and replace passed.
Here’s Trump’s statement in its entirety (your head will spin):
Today, I signed into law the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,” which enacts new sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. I favor 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.
That is why, since taking office, I have enacted tough new sanctions on Iran and North Korea, and shored up existing sanctions on Russia.
Since this bill was first introduced, I have 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.
My Administration has attempted to work with Congress to make this bill better. We have made progress and improved the language to give the Treasury Department greater flexibility in granting routine licenses to American businesses, people, and companies. The improved language also reflects feedback from our European allies – who have been steadfast partners on Russia sanctions – regarding the energy sanctions provided for in the legislation. The new language also ensures our agencies can delay sanctions on the intelligence and defense sectors, because those sanctions could negatively affect American companies and those of our allies.
Still, the bill remains seriously flawed – particularly 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. The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.
Yet 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. 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. America will continue to work closely with our friends and allies to check those countries’ malignant activities.
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.
There are three main things to take away from Trump’s kicking and screaming before signing the bill:
1. Trump is complaining about Congress encroaching on “presidential authority,” um, the checks and balances are to fend off his authoritarian tendencies. The framers of the Constitution wanted limits to presidential authority.
2. Trump’s soft spot of Vladimir Putin will most definitely have an impact on our allies and how they interact with him. He can’t be trusted.
3. Trump doesn’t believe the law applies to him, so it will be interesting to see how he plans to “carry out the law in a way consistent with his constitutional authority.”
Take from this mess what you will. The bottom line is that he was backed into a corner by both Democrats and Republicans who are taking a hard-line stance against Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election that brought us his shitty presidency. Putin is going to retaliate bigly. I doubt he’ll stop at the expulsion of 755 U.S. diplomats.
UPDATE: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is clapping back:
“The Trump team’s alarming connections and conduct with Russia necessitated stronger sanctions and tougher limits on President Trump’s ability to roll them back. President Trump’s signing statement raises serious questions about whether his Administration intends to follow the law, or whether he will continue to enable and reward Vladimir Putin’s aggression.
“The Republican Congress must not permit the Trump White House to wriggle out of its duty to impose these sanctions for Russia’s brazen assault on our democracy. Democrats will demand tough oversight to ensure strong and immediate implementation of the sanctions law.
“These strong Russia sanctions must be followed by swift Congressional action to launch the long-overdue outside, independent commission to expose the full extent of the Kremlin’s meddling in our elections and prevent it from ever happening again. The integrity of our democracy itself is at stake, and Congress has a responsibility to defend it.”