TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany...
SAUL LOEB

Is Trump dragging his feet on Russian sanctions?

It was one of the more embarrassing failures of Trump’s presidency to date. As lawmakers prepared new sanctions against Russia in response to its attack on the American election, the president opposed the move and tried to shield Moscow from punishment. This, naturally, made Trump look pretty bad.

Congressional Republicans proceeded to ignore the White House’s appeal and approved the sanctions anyway – the Senate vote was 98 to 2. This, naturally, made Trump look quite a bit worse.

Left with limited choices, the president ultimately signed the legislation he opposed, but not before whining and blaming the Republican-led Congress for undermining relations with Putin’s government.

At that point, it was widely assumed the administration would honor the law and implement the sanctions. As Foreign Policy noted yesterday, that hasn’t happened just yet.

On Wednesday, leading senators from both parties – Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin and Arizona Republican John McCain – criticized the Donald Trump administration for not meeting a deadline for implementing new sanctions on Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors.

“The delay calls into question the Trump administration’s commitment to the sanctions bill which was signed into law more than two months ago, following months of public debate and negotiations in Congress,” they said in a statement….. The lawmakers also noted that after writing to the administration on Sept. 28 urging an implementation plan for these sanctions, they have yet to receive a response.

A Mother Jones  piece added that the implementation deadline was Oct. 1 – 12 days ago – and it’s unclear why the sanctions are not yet in place.

The Mother Jones article went on to note that when Trump signed the sanctions bill into law, the president also issued a presidential signing statement suggesting he might ignore what he said were “a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions” in the legislation. “My administration will give careful and respectful consideration to the preferences expressed by the Congress in these various provisions and will implement them in a manner consistent with the President’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations,” the statement said.

So, does the administration intend to implement the policy or not? I suspect we haven’t heard the last of this one.

Donald Trump, John McCain and Russia

Is Trump dragging his feet on Russian sanctions?