President Donald Trump is preparing to lift the United States’ current sanctions on Russia, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said Friday. The announcement comes on the eve of Trump’s highly advertised phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday.
“All of that is under consideration, and certainly in addition to improving relations with different foreign leaders and their nations around the globe,” Conway said during an interview with Fox News Friday morning.
But another development could halt Trump’s plans to open the floodgate of money to Russia. A group of Senators, led by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are planning on proposing a bill to limit Trump’s ability to lift Russian sanctions without congressional approval, Politico reported.
“Donald Trump is unprepared to deal with Russia,” John McCain warned, adding that the Trump administration “has no strategy to deal with Putin’s attempts to influence elections in France and European countries in the coming months,” according to The Guardian.
“We need more sanctions against Russia. We should not relax them,” McCain said. “If we don’t keep those sanctions on and even increase them it will encourage Vladimir Putin, who is a war criminal.”
Lifting the sanctions will send a message to Russia that they can “go ahead and interfere in our elections and do bad things, it tells China, it tells Iran,” Senator Schumer said. “That would be terrible. So this legislation I hope will get bipartisan support.”
Bipartisan concerns remain over allegations that Russia led a campaign to influence the 2016 election in favor of Trump. McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have partnered with Democrats to call for a select committee to investigate Russian hacking and were part of a group that proposed a bill to increase sanctions on Russia.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell opposes the select committee and it is unclear if he would support a bill limiting Trump’s executive power.