Sen. John McCain on Friday warned President Donald Trump that any move to unilaterally ease sanctions against Russia would be met with an effort in Congress to restore them with legislation.
“For the sake of America’s national security and that of our allies, I hope President Trump will put an end to this speculation” about restoring sanctions, McCain said in a statement, “and reject such a reckless course. If he does not, I will work with my colleagues to codify sanctions against Russia into law.”
The Arizona Republican, who earlier this week vowed to oppose any Trump effort to revive the use of torture against detained terrorism suspects, spoke out as the president prepares for a Saturday phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Lifting administration sanctions against Moscow — the latest round of which were imposed in response to U.S. intelligence officials’ conclusion that Russia interfered in the presidential election on Trump’s behalf — is “under consideration,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said earlier Friday.
McCain and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are spearheading a bipartisan push to require congressional approval before Trump lifts any sanctions against Putin’s government. Two rounds of executive sanctions against Russia came in 2014 after Putin’s military aggression against the Ukraine, and former President Barack Obama expanded the punitive measures last month after an intelligence report cataloged Russian cyberattacks during the election.
During Trump’s call with Putin, McCain added, the president “should remember that the man on the other end of the line is a murderer and a thug who seeks to undermine American national security interests at every turn. For our commander in chief to think otherwise would be naive and dangerous.”