President Trump is mulling lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia ahead of his first conversation with the country’s leader, Vladimir Putin, since taking office, according to senior adviser Kellyanne Conway.
“All of that is under consideration,” Conway said during an interview with Fox News when asked whether removing sanctions is on the table.
Of Russia, Conway said, “if another nation that has considerable resources wishes to join together with [the] United States of America to defeat and eradicate radical Islamic terrorism, then we’re listening.”
“You know what the president has said: It’s America first, and that includes in his foreign policy and his national security moves,” she added.
Trump’s desire to forge closer ties with the Kremlin has come under scrutiny as intelligence agencies and Congress continue to probe findings that the country interfered in the 2016 election on his behalf by hacking the emails of Democratic political groups and inviduals.
Republican foreign policy hawks, including Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Redistricting reform key to achieving the bipartisanship Americans claim to want Kelly takes under-the-radar approach in Arizona Senate race MORE (Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators introduce bill aimed at protecting Ukrainian civilians Kyrsten Sinema's courage, Washington hypocrisy and the politics of rage Hillicon Valley: Amazon's Alabama union fight — take two MORE (S.C.), have warned Trump against lifting sanctions unilaterally.
The president is expected to speak by phone with Putin on Saturday, the White House said.
Trump has frequently praised his Russian counterpart, who has clashed with Western leaders for years over his country’s 2014 military intervention in Ukraine and cyber operations.
Trump is also expected to speak with the leaders of France and Germany, who back sanctions against the Kremlin.
The U.S. and the European Union imposed sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea.
In one of his last major official acts as president, Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaNo Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way Biden should pivot to a pro-growth strategy on immigration reform One year on, a critical role needs to be filled by the administration MORE also slapped sanctions on Russian intelligence agencies and officials for their alleged role in the 2016 hacking scheme.
Trump took a noncommittal stance to the latest sanctions while praising Putin for not retaliating in kind against the U.S.
"Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart!" Trump tweeted after the penalties were handed down last month.