Donald Trump signs Russia sanctions bill, blasts Congress for making him do it

In signing sanctions against Russia, Trump talks more about Congress and his business empire than what Russia did

Published August 2, 2017 11:55AM (EDT)

Donald Trump (AP/Susan Walsh)
Donald Trump (AP/Susan Walsh)

President Donald Trump has been desperate to downplay or even outright deny that Russia hacked into the 2016 presidential election in order to help him become president.

Yet now that Congress has passed increased sanctions against Russia — and done so by such an overwhelming majority that, if Trump vetoed the measure, it is virtually certain that he'd be overridden — Trump has reluctantly signed it into law while making his objections very clear in a public statement.

After pointedly refusing to label Russia's government as a "rogue regime" in the same breath that he uses to paint Iran and North Korea in that way, Trump makes his sole reference to Russia's alleged meddling in last year's election. After declaring that America won't "tolerate interference in our democratic process," he added, "We will side with our allies and friends against Russian subversion and destabilization."

Trump blasted the new law, claiming that it "improperly encroaches on executive power, disadvantages American companies, and hurts the interests of our European allies." After praising areas in which he claims his administration worked with Congress on the bill, Trump complained that "the bill remains seriously flawed particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch's authority to negotiate."

But Trump had his harshest words for Congress.

"Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking."

Trump also expressed concern about his ability to negotiate "good deals for the American people" and stated that "the Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice." He also stated that he hopes the sanctions in the bill "will no longer be necessary" if America and Russia can start cooperating on "major global issues."

Of course, Trump could resist the urge in the end to praise himself.

"I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars," Trump writes at the close of his statement. "That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress."


By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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