Trump signs Russia sanctions law, but slams it as ‘flawed’

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U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump grudgingly signed into law on Wednesday new sanctions against Russia that Congress had approved overwhelmingly last week, criticizing the legislation as having “clearly unconstitutional” elements.

After signing a bill that runs counter to his desire to improve relations with Moscow, and which also affects Iran and North Korea, the Republican president laid out a lengthy list of concerns.

“While I favor tough measures to punish and deter aggressive and destabilizing behavior by Iran, North Korea, and Russia, this legislation is significantly flawed,” Trump said in a statement announcing the signing.

The Republican-controlled Congress approved the legislation by such a large margin on Thursday that it would have thwarted any effort by Trump to veto the bill.

The legislation has already provoked countermeasures by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has ordered big cuts to the number of staff at the U.S. diplomatic mission to Russia.

Congress approved the sanctions to punish the Russian government over interference in the 2016 presidential election, annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and other perceived violations of international norms.

Trump said he was concerned about the sanctions’ effect on work with European allies, and on American business.

“My administration … expects the Congress to refrain from using this flawed bill to hinder our important work with European allies to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, and from using it to hinder our efforts to address any unintended consequences it may have for American businesses, our friends, or our allies,” he said.

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