Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress have reached agreement on legislation that would level fresh tough sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea, placing President Trump in a tough position.
If passed, the legislation would significantly limit the President’s power to roll back sanctions against Russia, something that the administration has been open to doing. In fact, Trump’s refusal to be critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his moves around the globe — even going against the unanimous conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies regarding meddling in the U.S. election — have raised suspicions among lawmakers and many voters.
Trump’s praise for Putin along with the continuous drip of new revelations regarding potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives have significantly hurt Trump’s credibility regarding his intentions and allegiances.
The new legislation by Congress which has overwhelmingly been supported in the U.S. Senate is a message to Trump that lawmakers — even those in his own party — do not trust him when it comes to Russia and its leader.
It also places Trump in a conundrum. If he chooses to veto the bill, it will only be further evidence that he is working in Russia’s interest. If he signs it, he will have far less leeway in trying to improve relations with the Kremlin.
Ultimately, what may drive Trump’s decision may be the margin by which the final bill passes through Congress. If it is anything like the 98-2 margin by which it passed through the Senate, then Trump would have to think twice about a veto as there clearly appear to be enough votes to override any such attempt.
However, the President has not shown any knowledge — even at the most basic, fundamental levels — of Washington politics. He also tends to believe that he can bully lawmakers, despite repeated embarrassing defeats each time that he has attempted to do so.
As much as Trump would like to have leeway with Russia — regardless of his motivations — a veto will likely be another in a series of disastrous political moves.