Trump Administration Ignores Deadline to Inflict Russia Sanctions; Corker Vows to Get Involved.
The chief GOP architect of a Russia sanctions package that Congress overwhelmingly approved earlier this year vowed Wednesday to find out why the Trump administration has delayed using its new powers to punish Moscow.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) — an author of the massive sanctions bill that President Donald Trump signed in August — told reporters that "I'm going to get on the phone with someone" within 24 hours to get details on why the administration missed the law's Oct. 1 deadline to hit certain Russian entities with new penalties.
Lawmakers' concern about the Trump administration's missed deadline has risen steadily since late September, when Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) wrote to Trump asking him to "ensure that the perpetrators of the [Russian] attack on our democracy last year — the defense and intelligence sectors — are sanctioned appropriately."
The Trump administration has chalked up the delay to the short turnaround time mandated by the bipartisan sanctions law. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Tuesday that administration officials are "working to complete the process and provide the public guidance to the relevant people just as soon as possible."
"I know that Congress is concerned about it," she added.
Corker observed that the missed deadline also could stem from the measure's inclusion of new penalties against Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
"It was a big bill," noted the Tennessean, who has repeatedly tangled with Trump but remains close to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.