Lifting Russian sanctions on the table for Trump-Putin call
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Lifting US sanctions on Russia will be up for discussion when the two country’s leader talk Saturday, a top White House adviser said Friday.
It will be the first phone conversation between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin since the inauguration.
Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump’s top advisers, told Fox News that “all of that is under consideration,” when asked specifically whether lifting sanctions approved by the Obama administration would be considered.
Conway went on to say Trump and Putin would discuss working together to fight ISIS and terrorism.
“If another nation that has considerable resources wishes to join together with the United States of America to try to defeat and eradicate radical Islamic terrorism, we are listening,” she said. “It’s very important to at least have this conversation.”
Obama imposed sanctions on Russia throughout his eight years as president and earlier this month expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the United States for alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Obama’s administration also sanctioned a host of Russian banks, defense contractors and energy companies in 2014 for Russia’s continued support for separatists in Ukraine and earlier in the year the administration imposed a range of measures, including asset freezes and travel bans, in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Trump spoke warmly of Putin throughout the 2016 campaign, even questioning whether Russian interests hacked Democratic organizations as part of an attempt to influence the election — a determination made by the US intelligence community.
“The Democratic National Committee would not allow the FBI to study or see its computer info after it was supposedly hacked by Russia,” Trump tweeted earlier this month. “So how and why are they so sure about hacking if they never even requested an examination of the computer servers? What is going on?”
During the campaign, Trump said he didn’t think “anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC,” arguing instead that it could have been “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”
Trump has also said, as he did earlier this month as a news conference, that if Putin likes him, that is a good thing.
Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, slammed the Trump administration for considering lifting sanctions on Russia.
“For the sake of America’s national security and that of our allies, I hope President Trump will put an end to this speculation and reject such a reckless course,” McCain said. “If he does not, I will work with my colleagues to codify sanctions against Russia into law.”
McCain added that it would be “naive and dangerous” for Trump to think Putin isn’t an enemy to the United States.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed Friday that Trump would speak with Putin on Saturday, as well as leaders from France and Germany.
Trump meets with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, his first diplomatic visit as president.