WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump blamed Congress on Thursday for what he deemed an “all-time and very dangerous low” in U.S. relations with Russia, continuing to criticize a bipartisan bill that he signed into law the previous day to impose sanctions on the country.
The bill punishes the Kremlin for interference in the 2016 U.S. election and for its seizure of Crimea in 2014.
Trump signed the bill, which passed overwhelmingly in both chambers of Congress, on Wednesday. There had been some speculation that he would not sign it, given his calls for a friendlier relationship with Russia, his dismissal of U.S. intelligence officials’ conclusion that Russia meddled in the election, and the multiple investigations into whether his campaign colluded with Russia last year.
Russia denies that it attempted to influence the U.S. election and says that Crimea, with a large population of ethnic Russians, is part of Russia.
In response to the bill, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the removal of 755 U.S. diplomats and staff and the seizure of two U.S. diplomatic facilities on Sunday.
Trump’s tweet on Thursday, in which he appeared to blame Congress for Russia’s actions, echoed a similarly critical statement about the bill he made on Wednesday.
In announcing that he had signed the bill, which also includes sanctions for Iran and North Korea, Trump claimed that parts of it were “unconstitutional” and said the legislation “encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.”
The bill specifically limits Trump’s ability to lift the sanctions. But Trump proclaimed that he could “make far better deals,” citing his business background.
“I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars,” he said in a statement. “That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”
Trump has frequently taken aim at the GOP-controlled Congress for not doing enough to advance his agenda.
Last month, as Senate Republicans’ failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, Trump launched personal attacks and threats against GOP lawmakers critical of the legislation. Following the health care bill’s demise, he again blamed Congress, though he did little himself to help Republican lawmakers pass the bill.