For the first time since President Trump signed legislation last Wednesday imposing sanctions on Moscow, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on Sunday, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.
Tillerson was reportedly seeking details on the Russian response to the sanctions bill while he, Lavrov and other diplomats are meeting in Manila for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations forum.
The new sanctions on Moscow also limit President Trump’s ability to lift the penalties, which he complained about even though he signed it, pointing out, “By limiting the executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together.”
Calling the bill “seriously flawed,” the President noted, “The framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the president. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.”
The day after signing the bill, Trump blamed Congress for the tense relationship our country has with Moscow.
“Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!” he tweeted on Thursday.
Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can't even give us HCare!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 3, 2017
The White House had indicated that the administration wanted a milder version of the sanctions bill, which was in part a response to Democrats’ allegations that President Trump and his staff colluded with the Russians to win the 2016 presidential campaign.
Senator John McCain, who voted “no” on the latest healthcare vote despite President Trump’s personal plea, shot back a retort to the president’s tweet, which seemed to indicate McCain specifically.
“Our relationship w/ Russia is at dangerous low. You can thank Putin for attacking our democracy, invading neighbors & threatening our allies,” McCain stated.
Our relationship w/ Russia is at dangerous low. You can thank Putin for attacking our democracy, invading neighbors & threatening our allies
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 3, 2017
On the other hand, the White House said late Saturday that it appreciated Russia’s cooperation in securing passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution that increases sanctions on North Korea in response to recent missile tests.
“The United Nations Security Council just voted 15-0 to sanction North Korea. China and Russia voted with us. Very big financial impact!” Trump tweeted.
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Critics accuse Trump of vacationing due to new photos and video