Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is making an appeal to Congress to keep an open-mind about Russia.
Tillerson feels any further sanctions could impede dialogue between the two nations, that might otherwise aid in the fight against terrorism.
In a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting Tuesday Tillerson said that he agrees with Congress that Russia needs to be punished for meddling in the 2016 election, but asked Congress for “flexibility.”
“I certainly agree with the sentiment that has been conveyed by several members from both parties that Russia must be held accountable for its meddling in U.S. elections,” Tillerson said.
“I would urge Congress to ensure any legislation allows the President to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation.”
Except there’s very little confidence in Trump right now to do the right thing, as far as Russia is concerned. Whether it’s because of the ongoing investigation or just general discomfort with his inexperience, lawmakers are doing what they feel is necessary to hold Moscow accountable.
The Senate reached a deal on Monday to impose new sanctions on Russia for “malicious cyber activity.” The legislation would also give Congress the power to review and potentially block President Trump from easing or lifting Russia sanctions, including penalties imposed by President Obama at the end of last year.
“By codifying existing sanctions and requiring Congressional review of any decision to weaken or lift them, we are ensuring that the United States continues to punish President Putin for his reckless and destabilizing actions. These additional sanctions will also send a powerful and bipartisan statement to Russia,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on Monday.
Tillerson stressed that the administration wanted to have the flexibility to get tough with Putin, when necessary, but to keep the channels of communication open.