When Donald Trump signed the Russia sanctions bill into law Wednesday, one signing statement wasn’t enough to express his deep frustration with being pinned down by Congress. So the White House press office issued two back-to-back statements from the president—one apparently written by the grown ups in the room, the other authored by the president himself with crayons at his very own grown-up desk.
While the grown-up statement on “H.R. 3364, the ‘Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,’” took issue with its specific provisions, citing “sections 253 and 257,” for instance, as unconstitutional intrusions on “the President’s exclusive constitutional authority to recognize foreign governments,” the other statement was riddled with petty grievances, boasts, slights, and shout outs to Russia.
“Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking,” Trump whined, officially memorializing an attack he launched against Congressional Republicans last week. “By limiting the executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together.”
Because no one has been striking better “deals” or presenting a more cohesive foreign policy than Trump, who first engaged China in “cake diplomacy,” then lamented that China had failed to produce results only to reprimand China last week for doing “NOTHING for us with North Korea.”
As Trump sees it:
I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.
But in spite his misgivings, Trump wants America to know that he rose above the fray to do what’s right for the country.
“Despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity.”
Because in Trump’s rendering, the sanctions bill reflects “the will of the American people” to:
“… see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States.”
“… sends a clear message to Iran and North Korea that the American people will not tolerate their dangerous and destabilizing behavior.”
Got that bifurcation? Same bill, different message, which might otherwise be tagged as Trumpian “Russia exceptionalism.” Pictorially, we figure this looks something like a White House with a dark cloud labeled Congress/Iran/North Korea hanging over it, and a Trump stick figure watering a plant labeled Russia over where the sun is shining.
As Trump noted:
Since this bill was first introduced, I have expressed my concerns to Congress about the many ways it improperly encroaches on Executive power…
If there’s one thing Trump is expert at, it’s improperly encroaching on executive power.