Politics

Trump Will Sign Sanctions Bill With Tougher Russia Penalties

White House alleges president signed off after ‘negotiations’

President Donald Trump plans to sign a bill slapping sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Despite posturing otherwise this week, President Trump will sign a bill that passed overwhelmingly in both chambers slapping new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, the White House announced Friday night.

“President Donald J. Trump read early drafts of the bill and negotiated regarding critical elements of it,” according to a statement issued by the office of Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. “He has now reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it.”

The announcement ended several days of drama during which some of the president’s closest aides suggested he might veto the legislation. It also came mere hours after he fired White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and replaced him with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps four-star general.

Trump’s decision to slap stiffer penalties on Moscow also comes amid a scandal over whether his 2016 campaign colluded with Vladimir Putin’s government. Trump has seemed reluctant to enact such sanctions, but appears to have bowed to domestic political pressures, mostly from his own party.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said multiple times this week that the Trump administration was “nonexistent” as lawmakers sought a final deal on the sanctions bill.

On Thursday, incoming White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said Trump might veto a House-passed measure that would slap new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea so he can “negotiate” tougher penalties against Moscow, says

In an unscheduled and combative phone call to CNN’s “New Day” morning show, Scaramucci said, after a separate 15-minute talk with Trump, the president had not ruled out rejecting a bill that got 419 Republican and Democratic votes in the House and 98 bipartisan votes in the Senate.

Scaramucci on Thursday morning said Trump, at that time, was considering vetoing the sanctions so he could be tougher on the Russians than the Congress via his own sanctions.

“He may sign the sanctions exactly the way they are or he may veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians,” the flamboyant former Wall Street financier said.

But after the Senate vote, Trump faced an overwhelming veto-proof majority in both chambers, composed largely of members of his own party.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chuckled Thursday when asked if he thought Trump would veto the measure. He told Roll Call that during multiple recent conversations with Trump, the president gave him no indication a veto was afoot.

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