On Monday, he failed to meet a deadline to impose sanctions on individuals who do business with Russian military or intelligence entities.
But he did release a list — which is a report from the Treasury Department — of more than 200 influential, wealthy Russians and senior government officials as part of a naming-and-shaming exercise to put top Russians on notice. Congress mandated both actions — the sanctions and the list — to punish Russia for meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Here’s the backstory: Last August, Trump reluctantly signed into law the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. Republican and Democratic lawmakers crafted the bill in response to Trump’s unusual warmth toward Russian President Vladimir Putin and his refusal to blame Russia for interfering in the election.
The legislation almost unanimously passed both chambers, and it was clear that Congress would override a presidential veto. It was explicitly designed to make old sanctions against Russia permanent and pressure Trump to impose new ones. The bill forced Trump to impose costs on Putin for interfering in America’s democratic process and his interventions in Ukraine and Syria.