The Trump Administration on Thursday said it has finally begun to comply with a 2017 law tightening sanctions on Russia after failing to comply with the sanctions for nearly a month, Reuters reports.
The State Department announced they have belatedly started informing Congress about groups connected to Russian intelligence and defense institutions as mandated by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
The bill, which became law in August, sought to punish Russia over their interference in the 2016 election.
The law requires the president to impose sanctions on any individual identified as being involved in “a significant transaction with a person that is part of, or operates for or on behalf of, the defense or intelligence sectors” of the Russian regime.
The act required the Trump administration to “specify the persons that are part of, or operate for or on behalf of, the defense and intelligence sectors” of the Kremlin by October 1, a deadline the State Department missed by nearly a month.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has finally authorized the agency to identify these Russian-tied operatives.
Nauert said that the department will also post public guidance on the issue on its website, though this will be delayed beyond Thursday.
“We expect to post the full public guidance on state.gov shortly … a lot of these conversations are still ongoing between Congress, industry, allies and also partners,” Nauert told reporters at a briefing.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker demanded answers on why the administration missed the deadline to implement the sanctions.
Corker spoke with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and later told Reuters that the department’s move “is a good first step in responsibly implementing a very complex piece of legislation.”
Asked about the sanction delays on “Meet the Press” Sunday, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said, “I think that the Trump administration is slow when it comes to Russia.”
“They have a blind spot on Russia I still can’t figure out,” he added.
Trump lobbied against the bill and complained it was “significantly flawed” when he reluctantly signed it after Congress passed it with veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate.
Trump claimed the law included “a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions” but said he was “signing this bill for the sake of national unity.”
“I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress,” he said in a statement, in lieu of a typical signing ceremony he holds whenever Congress is able to muster through any menial legislation.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former head of NATO, told CBS News that Russian President Vladimir Putin “must be laughing right now” at how successful the country’s interference in the election turned out to be.
“When he’s watching the ongoing discussion here in Washington, I think it’s unbelievable for him that he could achieve that much for a very modest investment in whatever he might have invested in interference in the election or whatever,” Rasmussen said after the sanctions guidance was announced.