Trump Confirms He Will Sign Russia Sanctions Bill

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Originally appeared at ZeroHedge

Following the approval from overwhelming majorities in both the House (419-3) and Senate (98-2), President Trump has just confirmed that he will sign the Russia sanctions bill into law.  The confirmation comes despite days of speculation after Anthony Scaramucci told CNN that Trump could sign the sanctions bill or “veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians.”

“President Donald J. Trump read early drafts of the bill and negotiated regarding critical elements of it.  He has now reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it.”

Your move, Mr. Putin.

* * *

For those who missed it, here is some background on the bill from our prior posts:

Two days after the House passed bipartisan legislation in a 419-3 vote codifying and imposing further sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea and preventing the president from acting unilaterally to remove certain sanctions on Russia, moments ago the Senate also overwhelmingly approved the measure in a 98-2 vote.  Only Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders voting no. The bill will now head to the White House where it will be either signed into law by the president or vetoed, setting up a potential showdown with the White House over Russia. The move marks congressional Republicans’ first rebuke of Trump’s foreign policy, where the administration’s warmer stance toward Russia has drawn heavy skepticism from both parties.

The three countries named in the bill are accused of violating “the international order” by Senator Bob Menendez, the former chairman of the foreign relations committee.

Under the bill, existing sanctions on Russia for its aggression in Ukraine and interference in the 2016 election would be codified into law. New sanctions would go into effect against Iran for its ballistic missile development, while North Korea’s shipping industry and people who use slave labor would be targeted amid the isolated nation’s efforts to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

While a full breakdown of the key details in the legislation is provided at the bottom of this post, in a nutshell the sanctions target Russian gas and pipeline developments by codifying six of Barack Obama’s executive orders implementing sanctions on Russia for its alleged interference in the US elections.

John McCain lauded the bipartisan process that supported the bill: “We will not tolerate attacks on our democracy!” the Senator, who chairs the armed services committee, said from the Senate floor. “That’s what this bill is all about.”

The Senate passage now sends the sanctions bill to Trump’s desk, although lawmakers expressed mixed expectations on whether the president would sign it into law. In recent days, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered mixed messages in recent days.  On Sunday, Sanders told ABC’s “This Week” that the administration supports the bill. But on Monday, she told reporters on Air Force One that Trump is “going to study that legislation” before making a final decision.

* * *

Should Trump sign the bill into law, a prompt Russian response is imminent. On Thursday, Russia’s Kommersant newspaper reported that Russia is planning “symmetrical” response to earlier U.S. actions, including expelling diplomats and seizing U.S. Embassy properties, if and when Trump signs the new sanctions legislation.

It noted that Russia may take the Serebryany Bor vacation complex, and send home 35 diplomats, the same number as the Russian diplomats who were expelled by Barack Obama late in December. Komersant added that Russia may also limit maximum number of U.S. diplomatic personnel, which currently exceeds Russian staff in U.S.

Also on Thursday, Vladimir Putin said that Russia would be forced to retaliate if Washington pressed ahead with what he called illegal new sanctions against Moscow, describing U.S. conduct towards his country as boorish and unreasonable.

“As you know, we are exercising restraint and patience, but at some moment we’ll have to retaliate. It’s impossible to endlessly tolerate this boorishness towards our country,” Putin told a joint news conference during a press conference in Findland.

“When will our response follow? What will it be? That will depend on the final version of the draft law which is now being debated in the U.S. Senate.”

Putin also spoke about an ongoing diplomatic row between Moscow and Washington which erupted last December when then U.S. President Barack Obama ordered the seizure of Russian diplomatic property in the United States and the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats.

“This goes beyond all reasonable bounds,” said Putin. “And now these sanctions – they are also absolutely unlawful from the point of view of international law.” Calling the proposed sanctions “extremely cynical,” Putin said the demarche looked like an attempt by Washington to use its “geopolitical advantages … to safeguard its economic interests at the expense of its allies”.

* * *

But while Russia’s adverse reaction is to be expected, it is the EU’s response that will be closely watched.

According to an internal memo leaked to the FT earlier in the week, Brussles said it should act “within days” if new sanctions the US plans to impose on Russia prove to be damaging to Europe’s trade ties with Moscow. Retaliatory measures may include limiting US jurisdiction over EU companies. The memo, reported by the Financial Times and Politico, has emerged amid mounting European opposition to a US bill seeking to hit Russia with a new round of sanctions.

The document said European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker was particularly concerned the sanctions would neglect the interests of European companies. Juncker said Brussels “should stand ready to act within days” if sanctions on Russia are “adopted without EU concerns being taken into account,” according to the Financial Times.

The EU memo also warns that “the measures could impact a potentially large number of European companies doing legitimate business under EU measures with Russian entities in the railways, financial, shipping or mining sectors, among others.”

The freshly leaked memo suggests that the EU is seeking “a public declaration” from the Trump administration that it will not apply the new sanctions in a way that targets European interests.  Other options on the table include triggering the ‘Blocking Statute,’ an EU regulation that limits the enforcement of extraterritorial US laws in Europe. A number of “WTO-compliant retaliatory measures” are also being considered, according to the memo.

Over the weekend, we reported that Brussles expressed its concerns over the sanctions bill, when the European Commission said in a statement that “the Russia/Iran sanctions bill is driven primarily by domestic considerations,” adding that it “could have unintended consequences, not only when it comes to Transatlantic/G7 unity, but also on EU economic and energy security interests.” 

And so, trapped between looking like a Russian crony on one hand if he refuses to sign the bill, and inflaming relations with not only Moscow but also Europe if he does sign, it will be up to Trump to determine if the feud with Russia escalates even more and involves European nations who are far closer to Russia in socio-economic terms than they would like to admit. 

* * *

Finally, courtesy of Goldman, here are the main details of the legislation:

Here are the main details of the draft legislation:

  • Codifies existing US sanctions on Russia and requires Congressional review before they are lifted.
  • Reduces from 30 days to 14 days the maximum allowed maturity for new debt and new extensions of credit to the state controlled financial institutions targeted under the sectoral sanctions.
  • Reduces from 90 days to 60 days the maximum allowed maturity for new debt and new extensions of credit to sectoral sanctions targets in the energy sector, although this largely only brings US sanctions in line with existing EU sanctions, which already impose a 30-day maximum for most energy companies.
  • Expands the existing Executive Order authorising sectoral sanctions to include additional sectors of the Russian economy: railways and metals and mining.
  • Requires sanctions on any person found to have invested $10 million or more, or facilitated such an investment, in the privatisation of Russian state-owned assets if they have “actual knowledge” that the privatisation “unjustly benefits” Russian government officials or their close associates or family members.
  • Authorises (but does not require) sanctions “in coordination with allies” on any person found to have knowingly made an investment of $1 million or more (or $5 million or more in any 12-month period), or knowingly provided goods or services of the same value, for construction, modernisation, or repair of Russia’s energy export pipelines.
  • Orders the treasury, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of State, to prepare detailed reports within the next 180 days:
    • on Russia’s oligarchs and parastatal companies including individual oligarchs’ closeness to the Russian state, their involvement in corrupt activities and the potential impact of expanding sanctions with respect to Russian oligarchs, Russian state-owned enterprises, and Russian parastatal entities, including impacts on the entities themselves and on the economy of the Russian Federation, as well as the exposure of key US economic sectors to these entities.
    • on the impact of debt- and equity-related sanctions being extended to include sovereign debt and the full range of derivative products.

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  • Pieter Lemmens

    Trump is the vilest US president ever. No wonder he’s worshipped by the bible fundis as the ‘tool of God’.

  • Joe Doe

    This is not surpris, as Trump will do anything to save himself. Anyone who think Trump will not sign is an fool. As I always saying, never trust americans and Russia should go its own way and what is best for Russia, as americans are not good partner.

  • Julius Meinel

    Whether he signs it or not, is irrelevant as the provisions of the bill are such as to prevent the president from unilaterally lifting or vetoing the sanctions without congressional approval. So, essentially , he has not choice his hands are tied.
    If he does not sign it, he will only feed new reasons to the neocons and Bolsheviks to undermine his presidency and possibly attempt to impeach him. He simply can not take on all of them at once. There are too many and most important too powerful. He understands, – in my option- that if he is to succeed, he has to do it one step of the time. He won the presidency on his message, but like-minded people ( with few exceptions) have not entered the House of Representatives or the Senate. That may take another 10-12 years, that is to say if the US does not collapse from major economic and/or social upheavals in between. Some in US ( and more so in western Europe) are too far advanced in their sense of moral degradation and the mental alienation. These loons live in a parallel world that has nothing to do with reality, just like the Germans lived in the 30’s and the Bolsheviks across the world were having wet dreams about communism in the 20 and 30″.

    • John Mason

      Whether he signs or not shows that Trump is lacking the right stuff to be POTUS. By vetoing the Bill he will at least put up a fight and show Russia/EU that he can be depended upon, to a small degree, not vetoing shows that he is a looser and unreliable to uphold the position of Presidency. He can also dissolve the Government and call for a new election, that will stop the Bill in its’ tracks. Trump is not an innocent bystander but has shown that he is part of the ‘swamp’.

      • Jesus

        In order to dissolve the Conress/Government he has to fire them, it will be like Caesar crossing Rubicon river and marching against Rome. He is not powerful enough to contemplate such a move at this time.

        • John Mason

          My understanding is that the President can not fire/dismiss Congress because Congress has more power under the Constitution. But if Trump resigns and call an election, that would work.

      • Ronald

        He does not need to dissolve the government , he holds the power of veto as President.

    • Jesus

      You are correct about US and Western Europe elites suffering from moral and mental degradation that makes them prone to strong and megalomaniac delusions, yes Trump has to take one step at the time and strengthen his position. Opportunity might present in the future whereby he can dissolve the congress and assume dictatorial powers, purging the neocons and reducing their influence significantly.

    • Ronald

      The American Constitution is specific in its granting the President sole power over treaty’s and arraignments with foreign powers . Its a Catch 22 , if he signs , he is going against the Constitution , if he vetoes , he is spun by MSM as friendly to Russia . He would be a fool to sign .

  • Hisham Saber

    Trump, the U.S. Senate, and Congress et al will do as their Jewish masters tell them. Anybody who does not grasp this needs to pay closer attention.

    • Pave Way IV

      Israel has seemed really pissed off at Russia for a long time. I realize their oligarchs got booted out after Putin cleaned house, but is that a reason to have their lapdog US politicians start WWIII with Russia? Israel is pissed about Russia in Syria, but also seems frantic about the second Russian NordStream pipeline. How is that a threat to them?

      Seriously, the US should be perfectly clear on their policy so everyone understands the situation: the Germans and the rest of the EU can buy all off the gas they want – as long as it comes from Israel. And until the Israeli Pipeline is built, the EU can only buy overpriced American LNG. No gas from Russia because Nettanyahu doesn’t like them. Obey your master!

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7c190d2bf155e213116f2afd5fbbde135686deb597384d0566cb9e939674ee60.png

      • Jesus

        The Jewish cabal has declared economic war on Putin and Russia.
        Initially a pipeline from Haifa to Turkey was held up in court, I do not see the route of the proposed pipeline on your map to have political approval from Greeks nor Italians, who have friendly relations with Russia.
        Turkish stream will supply Turkey, the Balkans and south Europe with piped gas.

        • Pave Way IV

          Putin is pretty clear that Russia has no position one way or the other on competing pipelines, and that ANY other gas pipelines from other countries to Europe is a natural consequence of a free market. Russia does not care (and has said so many times) that they don’t give a damn about Qatari, Israeli or any other proposed EU pipelines – let the market decide for economic reasons, not political scheming.

          Putin resents the US using its foreign policy to exert control on gas and oil markets, but stated quite plainly that Russia will never do the same in retaliation.

          • Jesus

            I do not think Putin is that naive, US exerting political foreign policy to undermine Russian natural gas sales to Europe, and Russia will say….it’s a free market ….supply and demand will determine everything?
            Russia will protect its interests in the market, if it is rigged by political and price manipulations, they will counteract accordingly.

      • Jens Holm

        And the other way ?

      • Hisham Saber

        The big ‘beef’ between Russians(people, her church, the Orthodox) and international Jews is an ideological one too. You see, the majority of the worlds Jews today are descendants of the Khazars, a war-mongering, nefarious and sick peoples that inhabited a large chunk of southern Russia until combined armies of Russian Slavs and Muslims crushed them in the Middle-Ages. They were thus scattered all over the world.

        Since then, they have had a hard-on for Russia, and even the Bolshevik Rev of 1917 was an instigated plot by international Jews. They see Russia as theirs. In the 90’s , they came upon Russia when she was weak like vultures but Putin squashed them.

        For these said Jews, the conquering of Russia is a part of their Zionism.

        These Jews are so very close to world subjugation, if it had not been for Putin and China’s Xi, both of whom know who the enemies to humanities peace, prosperity and world stability are.

        The single biggest threat to humanity is the diabolical Talmud, and it needs to be banned outright. The world over. Enough is enough.

        Btw, Israels dream of a ‘pipeline’, is just that, a dream. They dream of grandeur while the Shia crescent is creeping up on them ever so surely.

        Ya, its safe to say, for Israel, and the Jews who support the Zionist project, the ‘writing is on the wall’ for them.

        Libya, btw, could supply Europe with all its natural gas needs, and oil too. Libya, Iraq and Kuwait have the best quality oil in the world, the ‘Light Sweet Crude’ , cheap to extract, refine etc. That’s why Libya is such a mess today, because too many ‘players’ (foreign mostly) have their hands in that country. Think Qatar, Saudis and GCC, Turkey……

    • Jens Holm

      They listen to You and do the opposite.

  • FlorianGeyer

    We are essentially witnessing the screams and scratching cat fights of Western financial and corporate ‘war lords’ . It is akin to the infighting of terror gangs in Idlib today. They care nothing about their general populations except as serfs who pat them tithes.
    I was wondering whether the description ” Russia’s oligarchs and parastatal companies ” would be better described as ” Russia’s oligarchs and ‘PARASITAL’ companies , as the vast majority of Russian Oligarchs are Khazarian jews with dual Israeli nationality.

    • Pave Way IV

      Oligarch mafia wars between the ones that Putin booted out and the ones allowed to stay in Russia. They both demand all the shekels from the post-USSR parasitic state companies stolen from the Russian people. Putin’s strategy was brilliant. He couldn’t throw them all out for a number of reasons. Instead, he threw out one faction and reigned in the one allowed to stay. They’re too busy fighting among themselves to bother Putin. Every attempt to bring the Russian state into the fight fails miserably (Ukraine, Syria).

      Putin rescued the revival of the Russian economy by doing this and also pushed the oligarch’s fight out in the open where the world can see. The American people are slow to realize what this fight is about, but at least they have NOT been convinced that its fundamentally about the US and Russia. The best effect of all this is that the American people clearly realize (at least now) that the MSM and the US Congress are the only ones that believe the ‘Evil Russia’ narrative and it is being pushed for some other less-obvious reason.

    • Jens Holm

      hahahaha.

  • Terra Cotta Woolpuller

    The US congress hopes the EU will not do anything that is such a blunder in being stupid and blind in politics, we should see both factions of Jews will now play against each other in the field of policy institutes as they have been already. The Russians announced the actions in accordance to the last sanctions now they will announce new ones with the present one ,once passed. This is time for popcorn and refreshments and everybody get comfortable the fireworks should be spectacular.

    • Pave Way IV

      I am slightly surprised (but quite delighted) that the German government leaders seem to have grown a spine again. Either that, or they’re worried about ending up swinging from lamp-posts by the hands of the German people. In either case, I hope they actually follow through and tell the US where to stuff its ‘Evil Russia’ sanction schemes. Time for the Germans to punch the US bully in the face.

      • Jens Holm

        Its hard to be Merkel. Only germans trade so much with russia. But true – Others suffer some too.

        But we can be more independent by making our own electricity by wind and sunpanels.

    • Jens Holm

      Seemes like Allah sended Jews to punish You and they wrote the choran incl. Your economic suicide being always in zero or lower program as well.

      • Terra Cotta Woolpuller

        God would never wish the Synagogue of evil on anyone since they are followers of Shaitan and the Talmud. Syria grew because of it’s initiatives and had fought against coups by the Muslim Brotherhood for decades, the Jews require the largess of the US people and the world to survive. The end is coming for Israel it might be best to make it a protectorate since it doesn’t want to follow international and humanitarian laws.

  • Solomon Krupacek

    Russia is big, able to exist alone, Needs nobody. Why such boring, disturbing, pity articles?

  • Peter Fastwolf

    if it was anyone but trump talking about Russia the American people would back him or her up , but he has made to much on Russian mob money to tell the Americans anything about Russia maybe when he is out of office he can move to Russia then they can put up with his crap,,