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President Trump signs Russia sanction bill

Trump emphatically said "no" when asked during a joint news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in the White House's East Room.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed into law Wednesday morning legislation that levies new sanctions against Russia and restricts Trump’s own ability to ease sanctions in place against Moscow, a White House official said.

The legislation also gives Congress the power to block President Trump from easing sanctions against the country.

However, in a statement President Trump stated the legislation “is significantly flawed” and “clearly unconstitutional.”

“Those provisions purport to displace the President’s exclusive constitutional authority to recognize foreign governments, including their territorial bounds,” he said.

It “seeks to grant the Congress the ability to change the law outside the constitutionally required process. The bill prescribes a review period that precludes the President from taking certain actions.”

Nevertheless, President Trump stated he would honor the bill.

Lawmakers voted in favor of the action last week as a way to punish Moscow for meddling in the 2016 US election and for its aggression in Ukraine and Syria.

In response, President Putin demanded the US cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by 755 people, heightening tensions between Washington and Moscow.

“This will be felt significantly from the point of view of diplomatic office work. More than 1,000 diplomats and support staff were and are still working in Russia today, 755 will have to stop their activity in the Russian Federation. It will be felt significantly,” said President Putin.

“We have waited quite a long time and thought something might change for the better. We had hoped that the situation will somehow change, but apparently if it changes, it won’t be soon.”

Russia has not commented on the bill’s signing.