Congress Defies Trump on Russia


Tyler Comrie

The United States has struggled to find the right response to Russia’s hacking of the 2016 election ever since it was revealed last fall. President Barack Obama retaliated in December, but those sanctions did not sufficiently punish the Kremlin for interfering in America’s democratic processes or ensure it wouldn’t happen again.

His successor has yet to grasp the urgency of going further. Even though his family and advisers have been compromised by widening allegations of collusion with Moscow, President Trump has fiercely resisted more penalties. Finally, however, comes good news: On Thursday, Congress set aside its partisan bickering long enough to perform the civic duty that Mr. Trump has ducked, giving final passage to legislation imposing sweeping new sanctions on Russia and sharply limiting Mr. Trump’s ability to suspend new and existing ones. The Senate approved it by a 98-to-2 vote, following a similar, resounding 419-to-3 vote in the House.

The bill would impose credit and other restrictions on companies engaged in Russian energy projects, on foreign financial institutions that facilitate such projects and on suppliers of arms to Syria. The president must notify Congress before making changes to Russian sanctions policy and lawmakers can then block such changes.

The president has sent mixed messages about what comes next. Aides initially signaled that Mr. Trump would have no choice but to allow the bill to become law. On Thursday, however, his new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, suggested that Mr. Trump could veto the bill, ostensibly as a prelude to pushing for “tougher” legislation. As Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said aptly on the Senate floor, however, “I’m a New Yorker, too, and I know bull when I hear it.” Alternatively, if Mr. Trump vetoes the bill, it will be one more sign of his…

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