Trump signs into law new sanctions against Russia, calling them 'seriously flawed'
President says Congress-backed bill 'encroaches on the executive branch's authority to negotiate'
U.S. President Donald Trump says a bill imposing sanctions on Russia, North Korea and Iran is "seriously flawed" because it hinders his ability to negotiate.
In a statement Wednesday, Trump said he signed the bill, which imposes tough measures to "punish and deter bad behaviour by the rogue regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang" and enhance existing sanctions on Moscow.
But Trump said "the bill remains seriously flawed — particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch's authority to negotiate."
Trump added that "by limiting the executive's flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together."
Still, he said he was signing the bill "for the sake of national unity."
The package of stiff financial measures against Russia had passed Congress with overwhelming support.
Moscow responded to the sanctions by ordering a reduction in the number of U.S. diplomats in Russia.
In a Facebook post, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the sanctions amount to the declaration of a full-fledged trade war. And he stated that "the hope of improving our relationship with the new American administration is over."
By approving the sanctions, Medvedev argued, Trump is demonstrating "full impotence" because it amounts to a "humiliating handing over of executive powers to Congress."
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said he and Trump do not believe the new sanctions would "be helpful to our efforts" on diplomacy with Russia.
Asked about Tillerson's comments, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters: "We note there is a certain contradiction in the statements being voiced in the White House."
Peskov added: "Without doubt, it's important that the president of the United States is thinking about the current state, and about the prospects for, bilateral relations."
Eager to punish Russia for meddling in the 2016 election and for its actions in Ukraine, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly backed a new package of sanctions against Moscow July 25, prohibiting Trump from waiving the penalties without first getting permission from Congress.
Lawmakers passed the legislation 419-3. The Senate approved the legislation two days later by a vote of 98-2.
With files from Reuters and CBC News