In a move that undermines claims that he is controlled by the Kremlin, President Donald Trump will keep in place sanctions that the Obama administration imposed against Russia as punishment for Moscow’s alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election.
The Trump administration is currently conducting a full review its Russia policy, but the president will continue the sanctions, top White House economic advisor Gary Cohn said Friday. The U.S. enacted the measures a month before Trump took office, and administration critics have fretted he would lift the sanctions in an effort to draw Washington closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump has already confirmed that the U.S. will maintain the sanctions placed on Russia following Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine in 2014. Now, with the administration holding fast on sanctions for Russian meddling in the election, the president has dealt another a blow to critics who allege he’s a “Russian stooge” eager to do Putin’s budding.
Accusations that Trump is susceptible to influence — even blackmail — by the Russian government have dogged him since he made statements praising Putin during the presidential campaign. Opponents have also seized upon his former aides’ business connections to Russia, as well the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, floating theories that Trump is somehow controlled by handlers in the Russian government.