Donald Trump's White House may seek to water down Russian Federation sanctions

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The Senate signalled it's ready to expand sanctions against Russian Federation amid a probe into its meddling in the USA presidential election, and to let Congress review any move by President Donald Trump to lift existing penalties.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, ticked off a series of Russian aggressions that he said have gone without retaliation: annexation of Crimea, intervention in Syria, meddling in Ukraine and threatening North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries, as well as the USA election interference.

And it would impose new sanctions on "corrupt Russian actors", those implicated in serious human rights abuses or who supply weapons to Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria, and people who conduct "malicious cyber activity" on behalf of the Russian state.

The Trump administration reportedly is weighing the return of Russian compounds on USA soil seized by the Obama administration, and the president has repeatedly expressed a desire for better relations with Moscow while downplaying the impact of Russia's cyber activities.

If it passes the House, President Donald Trump would have to either sign or veto a bill that the White House has had little response to so far.

The amendment would require the administration to explain any moves to ease or lift sanctions, and create a new mechanism for Congress to review and block any such effort. They would target Russia's defense, intelligence, railway, mining and shipping industries.

The two senators who voted against the measure were Republicans Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah).

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It's unclear where Trump stands on the Russian Federation sanctions amendment.

Trump's secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, had questioned the legislation in testimony in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

"What I wouldn't want to do is close the channels off", Tillerson said.

The measure flew in the face of President Donald Trump-who has both steadfastly called for better relations with Moscow and denied it had meddled in the election that saw him rise to power last year-now faces a hard decision on whether or not to sign the bill.

Senators have struck a deal to put a comprehensive Russian Federation sanctions bill on the floor this week, according to those negotiating the legislation.

"I have no idea" if the White House is adequately concerned about Russian intervention in last year's election, Corker added, but "hopefully the White House will acknowledge" the massive level of Senate support for new sanctions against Russia.

The White House is seeking to influence some GOP House members to ease up on the Senate-passed Russian Federation sanctions, hoping that the lower chamber will provide "administration-friendly" changes, according to Politico.

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