The Trump administration missed a deadline to implement a Russian sanctions package passed by Congress. Several lawmakers have questioned whether President Donald Trump and his administration are intentionally delaying the sanctions from going into effect.
On July 27, the Senate passed a sanctions bill designed to punish Russian officials for meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The legislation included a provision that would prevent a president from placing or lifting sanctions without approval from Congress.
On Aug. 2, Trump signed the veto-proof bill into law and released a statement blasting the contents of the legislation, asserting that the bill was "significantly flawed," according to ABC News.
"I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress," the president added.
The Trump administration had until Oct. 1 to issue an official guidance for implementing the sanctions against Russia. The administration missed the deadline. In the ensuing weeks, members of Congress have grown increasingly frustrated, with some accusing the White House of intentionally bucking the sanctions package.
"If they don't cooperate, then further actions need to be taken," Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona told The Daily Beast on Oct. 23.
"With all the tough talk coming from the White House, it's baffling that the administration still hasn't enforced any of the new sanctions Congress passed in August," said Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel of New York.
On Sept. 28, McCain and Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland submitted a letter to the Trump administration calling for an official guidance for the sanctions, according to Politico. Cardin subsequently discussed the matter with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Oct. 11.
"We should've heard by now," Cardin said, according to The Daily Beast. "So we are disappointed. We have not gotten any follow-up from the letter and from the conversation I had with Secretary Tillerson."
On Oct. 25, Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee told reporters he would press the White House to clarify the status of the sanctions package.
"We're going to check into it," Corker told CNN. "I will find out in the next 24 hours. I'm going to get on the phone with someone and find out."
A White House official, who requested anonymity, asserted that the guidance deadline was not intentionally missed and that the process was moving slower than Congress had expected.
"There is no deliberate holdup," the official told CNN.
On Oct. 22, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina voiced skepticism that Trump viewed Russia and its operations to influence U.S. elections as an immediate threat.
"The Trump administration is slow when it comes to Russia," Graham told NBC News. "They have a blind spot on Russia I still can't figure out ... The Congress will have a way to hold the president accountable."