After the administration backtracked on sanctions over material support for Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons program, President Trump told reporters today that “we’ll do sanctions as soon as they very much deserve it.”
Trump was asked about the punitive measures after UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s announcement of forthcoming sanctions against Russia was met by White House officials who apparently hadn’t told her Trump didn’t want to move forward after all.
“I confirm that the Russian Embassy in Washington was informed that there will be no new sanctions in the near future,” a Russian Foreign Ministry official told Interfax today.
On CBS Sunday, Haley was asked whether there will be any consequences for Russia and Iran, staunch allies of Assad called out by President Trump on the evening of Friday’s airstrikes as supporters of the dictator.
“Absolutely,” Haley replied. “So, you will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down. Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday, if he hasn’t already. And they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons used.”
“And so I think everyone is going to feel it at this point,” she added. “I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message, and our hope is that they listen to it.”
But when Monday rolled around, there were no sanctions to be found.
White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told reporters on Tuesday, “I think the issue here is we have a set of sanctions, and additional sanctions are under consideration but not been determined.”
“So why did Nikki Haley say that sanctions were coming on Monday?” a reporter asked.
“She got ahead of the curve. She’s done a great job. She’s a very effective ambassador. There might have been some momentary confusion about that,” Kudlow replied. “But if you talk to Steve Mnuchin at Treasury and so forth, he will tell you the same thing. They’re in charge of this.”
Haley fired back a statement in response: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”
Kudlow later called the UN ambassador to apologize.