- The Washington Times - Friday, July 28, 2017

President Trump will sign the Russia sanctions bill, the White House said late Friday, saying that he managed to win important changes to the legislation and is now satisfied with it.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn’t go into details about what those changes were, but said “based on its responsiveness to his negotiations,” Mr. Trump “intends to sign it.

For days the White House had been coy about the president’s intentions, with new Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci saying Mr. Trump may have wanted even stiffer sanctions and could veto the bill to negotiate them himself.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill ridiculed that, saying even if he wanted more sanctions, he could sign this bill and come back for the rest of what he wanted.

A Trump veto likely wouldn’t have stood anyway. The sanctions legislation passed the Senate on a 98-2 vote Thursday, and passed the House 419-3 on Tuesday. Each vote was far more than what would have been needed to overturn a veto.

Anticipating Mr. Trump’s signature, Russia announced it was retaliating by expelling some American diplomats and reclaiming some real estate space used by the American mission in Moscow.

The sanctions legislation was intended to strip Mr. Trump of the ability to easily waive sanctions imposed by President Obama on Russian officials and key sectors of their economy. Mr. Trump had given mixed signals about whether he would lift the sanctions, so Congress wrote them into law, and created a review process should the president try to waive them anyway.

Lawmakers said it marked a further effort to impose Congress’s will on the president in foreign affairs.

After the White House signaled its decision, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a statement Saturday saying Moscow should see the sanctions legislation as a demand by Americans for “Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States.”

“We hope that there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues and these sanctions will no longer be necessary,” Mr. Tillerson said.

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