(CN) – President Trump signed bipartisan legislation on Wednesday imposing sanctions on Russia and limiting his own authority to lift them, a measure that has already escalated tension with the Russian government and produced retaliation against the American embassy there.
New sanctions signed into law also target Iran and North Korea.
After the Senate passed the sanctions package last week the White House indicated Trump would sign the legislation, though even if he had not the measure cleared Congress with such wide margins that lawmakers could have overridden the president’s veto.
Trump reportedly added a signing statement, which presidents have long used to indicate how they feel about a piece of legislation but that does not carry the force of law, expressing his concern about the bill’s impact on his foreign policy decision-making, according to Politico.
In a signing statement attached to the bill, Trump called the legislation “significantly flawed” and said it contains “a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions.”
It also said some of the provisions in the law run over the president’s authority to conduct foreign policy and that he hopes Congress will give him space to negotiate international agreements, especially with regards to “conflict in Ukraine.”
“Congress could not even negotiate a health care bill after seven years of talking,” Trump said in a separate, more general statement on the legislation. “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. The framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the president. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.”
Trump explained that despite his concerns he signed the bill “for the sake of national unity,” and that he hopes it will be a “clear message” to Iran and North Korea. He also said he hopes Russia will cooperate with the U.S. in the future to make the sanctions unnecessary.
Still, Trump warned Congress that it should leave the foreign policy decision-making to him.
“I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars,” Trump said in the statement. “That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As president, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”
The bill codifies sanctions former President Barack Obama put in place against Russian officials over the country’s alleged attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and prevents the president from lifting the sanctions unilaterally. – Developing story.