Trump could seek ‘tougher’ Russia sanctions: White House aide

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump could veto pending legislation which would slap new sanctions on Russia, in order to push for a tougher deal, a top White House aide said on Thursday.

Russia has warned it could retaliate if the legislation is passed, and the European Union said the new sanctions might affect its energy security and prompt it to act, too.

The White House has said Trump is still evaluating the bill and supported strong sanctions against Russia, though tougher sanctions would likely strain the relationship with Moscow which Trump had been seeking to improve.

“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,” White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci told CNN.

On Wednesday, U.S. lawmakers reached an agreement, clearing the way for the Senate to pass a measure as soon as this week to impose new sanctions on Russia and bar the president from easing sanctions on Moscow if Congress objects.

The bill, which also includes sanctions on Iran and North Korea, has enough bipartisan support that lawmakers could easily override the threatened veto.

There was no immediate word on when the Senate would vote but members of both parties have said they want to send it to Trump before they leave Washington mid-month for their summer recess.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer said Democrats would work with Republicans to move the bill quickly, adding that Congress would swiftly override if Trump were to veto the measure.

Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats have pushed for more sanctions partly as a response to findings by U.S. intelligence agencies that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 U.S. election to boost Trump’s campaign.

Several congressional committees and a federal special counsel are investigating possible collusion between Moscow and Trump’s campaign, something both Trump and the Kremlin deny.

The House of Representatives…

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