President Donald Trump intends to sign legislation that places new sanctions on Russia and empowers Congress to block him from scaling back the penalties on Moscow in the future, the White House press secretary’s office said Friday.
White House officials had earlier left open the possibility Trump would veto the bill, though it was passed with veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate.
“President Donald J. Trump read early drafts of the bill and negotiated regarding critical elements of it,” the press secretary office’s statement read. “He has now reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign.”
The sanctions push came in response to the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and amid concern about Trump’s efforts to warm relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The measure, which also places additional sanctions on North Korea and Iran, passed the Senate 98-2 and the House 419-3 this week after a series of delays and partisan squabbling on Capitol Hill and resistance from the White House.
Under the law, Congress is granted the right to review any changes to Russia sanctions policy proposed by the president and can block them from taking effect.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that the bill would eliminate the administration’s “flexibility” to adjust its Russia policy.
Communications director Anthony Scaramucci told CNN on Thursday that Trump “may sign the sanctions exactly the way they are, or he may veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians.”
The Trump administration’s relationship with Moscow is under scrutiny amid a Justice Department probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into the election meddling and whether the Trump campaign colluded in the effort.
Earlier Friday, the Kremlin retaliated for the sanctions bill requiring the United States to reduce the number of American diplomats in Russia and blocking U.S. diplomats from use of a beach house and storage facilities in Moscow.