Members of the U.S. Congress, who passed new sanctions on Russia nearly unanimously last summer, criticized President Donald Trump on Tuesday for not imposing them, accusing him of being soft on his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The Trump administration said on Monday it would not announce sanctions for now under the new law, intended to punish Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Russia denies interfering in the campaign. Democrats blasted the decision, accusing Trump of failing to do everything possible to deter any future foreign election interference. Trump, who wanted warmer ties with Moscow, opposed the legislation as it worked its way through Congress and signed it reluctantly in August. Twenty Senate Democrats sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday saying the failure to impose sanctions was “unacceptable.”
Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said there was “real concern” about possible Russian meddling in 2018 U.S. congressional and state elections, adding: “The president of the United States is not taking action to defend this nation.”
Some Republicans also expressed doubts. Senator Susan Collins called the sanctions decision “perplexing.”
“The one thing we know for sure already, is the Russians did attempt to meddle in our elections and not only should there be a price to pay in terms of sanctions but also we need to put safeguards in place right now for the elections for this year,” she said on CNN.