President Trump to sign Russia sanctions bill, says White House

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WASHINGTON– President Donald Trump has reviewed the final version of Russia sanctions legislation and plans to sign it, the White House announced Friday night.

Trump read early drafts of the bill, negotiated elements of it and “based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it,” the White House statement said.

The legislation, which was sent to the White House on Friday, would sanction Russia while sharply limiting Trump’s ability to ease penalties against Moscow independently.

Rejecting the bill would have further galvanized resistance against the President and deepened concerns about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. And Congress would have quickly overturned a veto — a public repudiation that would underscore the President’s impotence in this situation.

Signing the bill into law will send an inexperienced and undisciplined White House into an escalating confrontation with Russia at a time when safeguards to reduce tensions have eroded and domestic pressure in both countries will make it hard to reverse course.

Russia will likely retaliate in ways that go beyond the expulsion of US diplomats and the seizure of American diplomatic recreation areas that took place Friday, said George Beebe, a former director of Russia analysis at the CIA, and others. Russia is likely to more actively work against US interests on the international stage.

Russia announced that it was expelling American diplomats and seizing property after Congress passed the bill. Trump has repeatedly said he wants better relations with Moscow and, according to his communications director Anthony Scaramucci, still doubts Moscow’s involvement in the election campaign.