Longtime Arizona Sen. John McCain, a Republican, warned President Donald Trump on sanctions levied against Russia, saying he hopes the nascent administration will reject lifting them. If Trump doesn’t heed his warning, McCain said, then he’ll reimpose sanctions by way of the U.S. Senate.
There has been speculation that Trump might lift sanctions against Russia, which were imposed on the country by the Obama administration
“For the sake of America’s national security and that of our allies, I hope President Trump will put an end to this speculation and reject such a reckless course. If he does not, I will work with my colleagues to codify sanctions against Russia into law,” McCain said in a statement.
Later, he described Putin as a “murderer and a thug” who is actively seeking to undermine American interests.
“Each of our last three presidents had high hopes for building a partnership with the Russian government. Each attempt failed, not for lack of good faith and effort on the U.S. side, but because Putin wants to be our enemy,” McCain said.
Another Republican senator, Tom Portman, echoed McCain’s comments. The Senate should legislate the sanctions “to ensure we live up to our commitments to our allies and uphold longstanding American values and ideals,” as The Guardian reported.
Trump said Friday that it’s still “very early” to even discuss lifting sanctions on Russia, the Washington Post reported.
“As far as again Putin and Russia, I don’t say good, bad, or indifferent,” added Trump. “I don’t know the gentleman. I hope we have a fantastic relationship. That’s possible. And it’s also possible we won’t. We will see what happens. I will be representing the American people very, very strongly, very forcefully.”
Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are slated to hold their first phone call over the weekend.
The talk of lifting sanctions was set off by Trump aide Kellyanne Conway’s comment that the lifting of sanctions against Russia will be “under consideration,” according to Fox News.
Former President Obama slapped sanctions on Russia for alleged interference in the 2016 election as well as intervention in the conflict in Ukraine, which started in 2014. “All that is under consideration … And if another nation that has considerable resources wishes to join with the United States of America to try to defeat and eradicate radical Islamic terrorism, then we’re listening,” Conway said.