Fmr. Obama State Dept. Spokesman: Trump Holding Russia ‘Accountable’ by Signing Sanctions Bill

• August 3, 2017 2:04 pm


John Kirby, the former State Department spokesman during the Obama administration, said Wednesday on CNN that President Donald Trump is holding the Russian government "accountable" by signing the sanctions bill against Russia.

Host Brooke Baldwin asked Kirby what he thought about Trump's delay in signing the bipartisan bill and the president's fears that the legislation encroachs on the executive branch's powers.

"Well, you talked about support from Congress on this. I think he obviously would consider it unwelcome support. This is not a bill that I think he was all that interested in signing for a myriad of reasons," Kirby said.

Kirby added that he would like to believe that the delay in approving the sanctions was because he had his lawyers looking over the authorities in the bill, so he could make a legal case for why it was flawed in that regard.

"If [Trump] signed this bill, to me, that was proof enough in my mind that he was willing to hold Russia accountable, so I’m glad he signed it," said Kirby, a retired admiral.

"I understand the concern over his executive authority and I hope that that's really the limit of his concerns over this and that we can move past all this and continue to hold [Russian President Vladimir] Putin accountable," Kirby continued.

Trump signed the Russia sanctions bill on Wednesday behind closed doors and released a statement explaining his concern over the bill, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

The bill was passed with a vote of 419-3 in the House, and 98-2 in the Senate, making it likely that a veto from Trump would have been overturned.

The bill places sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea, and gives Congress the power of blocking the president from lifting them. Experts say that the goal of the Russia sanctions is to make it more difficult for Russia to export weapons, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The bill will also prevent Trump from lifting Obama administration-era sanctions on Russia, which were responding to the Russian government's aggression in Ukraine and meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. If Trump intended to cut down on Russia sanctions, he would need approval from Congress.

The bill was originally created to target Iran and North Korea's ability and efforts to drop missiles, but Russia was added in later.