- The Washington Times - Monday, February 19, 2018

White House spokesman Raj Shah said Monday that President Trump is holding the Russians to account, but also wants to try to have a working relationship with them in other areas.

“The president has been tough on Russia, and he’s been consistent on Russia. He’s done things that the previous administration wasn’t willing to do. He authorized a bombing campaign in Syria against the Assad regime over Russian objections,” Mr. Shah, White House principal deputy press secretary, said on Fox News.

“He’s authorized the sale of offensive weapons in Ukraine again against Russian objections. He’s been tough measured and smart when it comes to Russia,” he added.

Mr. Shah was reacting to criticism from those who say the administration should enact the sanctions passed by Congress last year. The Trump administration passed the deadline to act on those powers last month, saying that they are using the legislation as a “deterrent” in talks with Russia.

“He’s working with the Russians in some areas and holding them to account in the other areas,” Mr. Shah explained.

The criticism comes amid a looming special counsel investigation into collusion allegations between the Trump campaign and Russia. Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is heading the investigation, indicted 13 Russians and three Russian entities for meddling in the 2016 presidential election on Friday.

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