Trump puts hold on additional Russia sanctions: report
President Trump reportedly put a stop to plans to impose additional sanctions on Russia for its alleged role in a recent suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria because he was not yet comfortable with putting the penalties in place.
The Washington Post reported that Trump spoke with his national security advisers on Sunday after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that additional sanctions were forthcoming.
While additional economic sanctions were under consideration, the president had not given the approval to put them in place, the newspaper reported. Instead, the White House is in a “holding pattern,” and Trump will likely levy further sanctions only if Russia is involved in another event that threatens U.S. interests.
The White House on Monday morning walked back Haley’s comments, saying the administration is “considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future.”
On “Face the Nation,” Haley said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would announce additional economic sanctions on Russia on Monday. She said the sanctions would target “any sort of companies related to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad and chemical weapons use.”
The internal debate over further action against Russia comes as Trump is without a permanent secretary of State and just a short time after his new national security adviser, John Bolton, formally started on the job.
Dozens were killed earlier this month in an apparent chemical weapons attack on a hospital in the Syrian town of Douma. In response, the U.S., the United Kingdom and France launched targeted missile strikes on Friday night.
Syria and Russia have denied involvement in the attack, with the latter threatening retaliation for strikes against Syria.
Democrats and some Republicans have criticized Trump for his rhetoric toward Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin since taking office.
Despite that, the president asserted earlier this month that “probably no one has been tougher on Russia than Donald Trump.”
Earlier this month, Trump approved the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats in the U.S. after a nerve agent attack on an ex-Russian spy living in the U.K. However, The Washington Post reported Sunday that Trump was upset the U.S. expelled more diplomats than European allies.
Trump tweeted that Putin was responsible for the reported chemical attack earlier this month and questioned why Russia would align itself with a “gas killing animal” like Assad.