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Trump Signs Russia Sanctions Bill "With Reservations"

After several days of delays, which prompted speculation among politicians and the media why the White House is dragging its feet on the issue and was the topic of several questions during Rex Tillerson's Tuesday media press conference, moments ago the Donald Trump officially signed the Russian Sanctions that prevents the president from acting unilaterally to remove certain sanctions on Russia and adds sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, a White House official told Bloomberg News.

  • TRUMP IS SAID TO SIGN RUSSIA SANCTIONS BILL, OFFICIAL SAYS
  • WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL SAYS TRUMP SIGNED SANCTIONS LEGISLATION

However, as Bloomberg also adds, the administration said it will carry out the law but "with reservations" about its impact and the constitutionality of some provisions.

The so-called signing statement, obtained by Bloomberg, lays out Trump’s concerns about the legislation, including that it encroaches on presidential authority and may hurt U.S. ability to work with allies.

Some more details on Trump's reservations:

Trump’s statement doesn’t signal any intent to bypass or circumvent aspects of the law. Instead, the president indicates he intends for his administration to carry out the law in a way consistent with his constitutional authority, language that leaves open some room for interpretation of how the law is executed.

 

Trump’s concerns cover four areas: encroachment on executive authority, unintentional harm to U.S. companies and business, as well as U.S. international partners, and limits on the flexibility of the administration to act in concert with allies in dealing with Russia.

And while Russia already announced its response, expelling some 755 US diplomats and seizing two US compounds, the spotlight now shifts to the European Union - which previously warned of an "imminent response" if European companies are hobbled by sanctions aimed at squeezing Russia’s energy exports - whose retaliation will be unveiled shortly.

Previously, Congressional lawmakers said they wanted to prevent the president from acting unilaterally to lift penalties imposed by Trump’s predecessor, former President Barack Obama, for meddling in last year’s U.S. election and for aggression in Ukraine.

White House officials had argued that it hampered the president’s ability to negotiate. But the legislation cleared both the House and Senate by wide margins, indicating any presidential veto would be overridden. Recent presidents including Obama and George W. Bush also used signing statements to express displeasure or signal planned modifications to legislation they felt compelled to sign over their own objections.

 

“This is an area, though, where the administration is going to be watched very carefully,” said Peter Feaver, a Duke University professor and director of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies, who served on the National Security Council staffs of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. This sanctions bill, he said, was passed “by overwhelming majorities in both houses and it’s on one of the most important issues of the day. If the president tries to wiggle out from under the constraints of the law, I think he will pay a high political price for doing so.”

 

Feaver also said he expects Congress will replace this sanctions bill with one that returns more flexibility to Trump once the administration comes up with a clear and tough Russia policy. 

 

“It’s driven by a perception on Capitol Hill that the administration does not have a coherent Russia policy yet and the administration has not yet spoken with one voice about what Russia did,” he said. “When they do, and it has bipartisan support, Congress will replace this form of sanctions with another one that gives the president a national security waiver or some form of more wiggle room that is more customary.”

Curiously, following the news, oil took a leg lower.