White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday rejected claims that President Trump is going “soft” on Russia after the administration decided not to impose additional sanctions aimed at the Russian defense and intelligence sectors.
“He’s not soft on Russia. That’s not right,” Conway told CNN on Tuesday. “… This president has been very tough about energy, about [the Islamic State], and we’re trying to work together with Russia on big issues of the day like a denuclearized North Korea, which is everybody’s business, in dealing with Syria.”
The Trump administration decided Monday it would not implement sanctions on those that do business with Russia’s defense and intelligence industries, despite a law passed overwhelmingly by Congress last year that mandated sanctions against Moscow.
The law, which Trump signed in August, served as punishment for Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Monday the sanctions were already negatively impacting Russia’s defense industry.
“Today, we have informed Congress that this legislation and its implementation are deterring Russian defense sales,” she said. “Since the enactment of the legislation, we estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions.”
When pressed by CNN’s Chris Cuomo on why the president wouldn’t punish Russia for its meddling in the 2016 election, Conway questioned whether Moscow succeeded in undermining democracy in the U.S.
“They interfered in this election to try and disrupt our democracy, and they’re doing it right now,” Cuomo said.
“And did they? Do you think that’s why he won and why the person whose name I never mention on TV anymore lost?” Conway replied, referencing Hillary Clinton.