The White House says it won’t block a Congressional bill that’ll slap new sanctions on Russia. It would also limit the President’s authority to lift them.
CGTN’s Roee Ruttenburger explains the decision.
A surprising turnaround for the Trump Administration, hours after lawmakers announced a deal that would effectively punish Russia for its ongoing military presence in Eastern Ukraine and, for interfering – they say – with last year’s election.
Congress must act immediately to put Russia sanctions legislation on the President's desk before the August recess. https://t.co/LZFaLmDl1R
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) July 22, 2017
Many on Capitol Hill were worried the U.S. President might be too cozy with the Kremlin. And that he might buckle to ongoing Russian efforts to have new – and old – sanctions removed. The bill blocks Donald Trump from lifting the sanctions without Congressional approval.
The White House initially said such action – curtailing the President’s authority – would infringe on his ability to determine and define foreign policy. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the new White House Press Secretary, said the administration was on board.
At the same time, Sanders’ new boss, the incoming White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, said Trump still isn’t convinced by U.S. Intelligence reports that concluded Russia meddled in the election.
Meanwhile, the Russian Embassy in Washington announced that one of the central figures in this whole investigation – the Russian ambassador – would be heading back to Moscow. During his almost 10 years in Washington, Sergey Kislyak kept a relatively low profile. Lots of discrete meetings … including, we now know, with top Trump advisers last year.
Ambassador S.Kislyak has concluded his assignment in Washington, DC
Minister-Counselor D.Gonchar will act as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim🇷🇺 pic.twitter.com/180FfyQvXK
— Russia in USA 🇷🇺 (@RusEmbUSA) July 22, 2017
Donald’s Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned over such meetings. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Attorney General, recused himself from a law enforcement investigation into Russia’s role in the election because of his past meetings with Kislyak.
Trump’s son-in-law turned senior adviser Jared Kushner also got swept up in all of this, having failed to disclose a previous meeting with Kislyak and the head of a Russian state-run bank.
Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence committee about that meeting and others. The Russian Embassy said Kislyak’s departure was scheduled. But many are looking at the timing – and wondering if there’s more to the story.