Facing overwhelming opposition from Congress, President Donald Trump signed a bill Wednesday to impose strict new sanctions against Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump made clear he wasn’t doing so willingly.
One reason he gave for believing the bill he just signed is “seriously flawed”: He doesn’t think it adequately accounts for his prowess as a negotiator.
“I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected,” Trump said in the statement’s final paragraph. “As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”
There are a couple of things to note about the statement, which you can read in full below. First, it's strange for Trump to argue that Congress makes bad deals with foreign countries; that's not something within congressional purview in the first place. Second, self-mythologizing aside, Trump has yet to show himself capable of striking any deals with foreign countries, and hasn't even shown much interest in trying to negotiate any. He pulled out of the Paris climate accord after promising to negotiate better terms, for example; other governments immediately made clear that there would be no new talks.
As Vox’s Zeeshan Aleem explains, the new law takes sanctions imposed by President Obama and enshrines them in law, taking that decision out of Trump’s hands.
Citing congressional dysfunction, Trump argues that’s a dangerous mistake. In his statement, he says that the bill “encroaches on the executive branch's authority to negotiate."
This isn’t the first time the White House has opposed the bill because of its impact on executive authority.
“This bill is so poorly written that neither Republican nor Democratic administrations would be comfortable with the current draft because it greatly hampers the executive branch's diplomatic efforts,” Marc Short, a White House official working to delay the bill, told Axios last month.
Trump’s latest statement contains a strong rebuke of a co-equal branch of government. “The Framers of the Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President,” Trump writes in the statement. “This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.”