Senator John McCain of Arizona and Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, called out President Trump today for trying to ignore a key deadline in his implementation of new sanctions against Russia. “They’ve had plenty of time to get their act together,” the pair said in a joint statement, that intends to bring Trump’s lax attitude on Russia back to the forefront.
Senators McCain and Cardin wrote the new Russia sanctions bill themselves, which passed in the Senate nearly unanimously, with Trump complaining about it but signing it anyway. The bill requires that the Trump administration clarify targets within Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors so they can be punished for their interference in our affairs, by October 1st. It is now October 11th and Trump hasn’t lifted a finger in implementing these new sanctions.
“The delay calls into question the Trump administration’s commitment to the sanctions bill which was signed into law more than two months ago, following months of public debate and negotiations in Congress. They’ve had plenty of time to get their act together,” the pair said in their joint statement today.
This delay is disturbing because this sanctions bill that McCain helped create, was only created because of Trump in the first place. It was intended to force Trump to punish Russia for its tampering in the 2016 presidential election. “[T]here does not appear to be a significant diplomatic effort to engage our allies in Europe and lead an effort to increase pressure on Moscow. Congressional intent was clear, reflected in the overwhelming bipartisan majority in favor of the legislation,” Senators McCain and Cardin said today in their statement.
McCain and Cardin sent a letter to Trump reminding him of the deadline on September 29th, so he has been ignoring this for weeks. Interestingly enough, he delegated many of the responsibility on making decisions required by the bill to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Congress must act to ensure that Trump enforces that which he is legally bound to do so.