>> The US Senate on Thursday, voting to turn the screws on Russia with new sanctions, a slap to President Trump as he tries to step up relations with the Kremlin. I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington, where we are already seeing real world fallout from the Russia probe. The Senate voting to buckle down on Moscow, punishing Vladimir Putin for interfering in last year's elections.
The bill also cutting off Trumps's options for rolling back those sanctions, requiring Congress to sign off on any changes. It's a clear sign that the Republicans who control Capitol Hill don't trust Trump to hang tough on Russia, as investigators explore whether anybody from his campaign colluded with Moscow in the 2016 elections.
The Senate, on Thursday, overwhelmingly approving the measure in a rare display of bipartisan unity, by a vote of 98 to 2 as part of a larger bill sanctioning Iran for its missile program. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives before it can reach the White House for Trump's signature.
In last year's presidential campaign, Trump lavished praise on Putin, saying the two countries should work together more closely.>> Wouldn't it be nice if we actually got along with Russia? Wouldn't that be nice?>> This says Russia tried to tilt the election to Trump, according to US intelligence.
More recent reports saying Russian hackers had tested US cyber defenses in more than 30 states. Before leaving office, former President Obama had thrown up new sanctions to punish Moscow for interfering with the election and invading Crimea. The new bill would lock those sanctions into law, making it harder for Trump to roll them back, something he has toyed with as a way to get Putin's help in other areas, like fighting Islamic state.
It's unclear at this point whether Trump would veto the measure, but the political costs of doing so could make him think twice. Republicans in Congress have tried to defend Trump through the twists and turns of the Russia probe. That's clearly getting harder, with word that investigators are exploring whether Trump personally obstructed justice by trying to quash the probe.
Thursday's vote, a clear brushback pitch from Congress. Presidents typically have wide latitude to conduct foreign affairs as they see fit, but lawmakers trying to restrict his options when it comes to Russia.