Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke out regarding the prospect of providing sanctions relief to Russia, expressing some strong opinions on the matter.
The Kentucky Republican is urging President Trump to avoid providing Russia with any sanctions relief.
On Friday, Trump was noncommittal when asked whether he would ease sanctions against Russia in light of his planned conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin which is set to take place on Saturday.
“I’m against lifting any sanctions on the Russians,” McConnell told Politico. “These sanctions were imposed because of their behavior in Crimea, eastern Ukraine and now, we know they’ve been messing around in our elections as well.”
“If there’s any country in the world that doesn’t deserve sanctions relief, it’s Russia,” he added.
McConnell, however, would not say whether he would support Arizona Senator John McCain’s idea of codifying existing sanctions against Russia into law. He was also hesitant to endorse adding new sanctions.
“I think the first step is to make sure we don’t undo — either legislatively or through the executive branch — any of the existing sanctions,” McConnell said. “And we’ll talk about new ones in the future.”
The President’s phone call with the Russian leader on Saturday could place his already uneasy relationship with the GOP under further strain, and the announcement of Trump and his team on Friday, certainly does not help things.
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway on Friday morning said that the President was mulling sanctions relief for Russia before speaking with Putin. “All of that is under consideration,” Conway said on Fox News’s ‘Fox & Friends.’
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Trump was more reserved when asked about easing sanctions during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May. “I have a call set up. We’ll see what happens. As far as sanctions, it’s still very early to be talking about that,” he said.
“If we can have a great relationship with Russia and China and with all countries, I’m all for that,” Trump added.
May’s views were not consistent with Trump’s. She said that the U.K. believes that “sanctions should continue.”