President Donald Trump could lift sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine by himself — and may justify doing so by saying that he is putting America first.
Trump is expected to discuss the sanctions when he speaks by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, White House aide Kellyanne Conway said in a television interview Friday. The White House also announced that Trump has separate calls with the leaders of Germany and France, two U.S. NATO allies that support sanctions on Russia.
"We'll see what happens," Trump said regarding Russia sanctions at a press conference on Friday. "As far as the sanctions, it's very early to be talking about that, but we look to have a great relationship with all countries, ideally."
The U.S. sanctions, imposed through executive order by President Barack Obama, can be lifted by Trump's pen — without the vote of Congress — if he so wishes, experts said. It's not clear whether his intention is to lift sanctions right away, but Trump's first official discussion with Putin could lay the groundwork for removal.