The measure passed the house 419 to 3 but will have to be passed through Senate before it reaches US President Donald Trump's desk to be signed into law.

The bill would potentially hamper Trump's hopes of pursuing improved relations with Moscow.
The bill would potentially hamper Trump's hopes of pursuing improved relations with Moscow.

The US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to slap new sanctions on Russia, and force President Donald Trump to obtain lawmakers' permission before easing any sanctions on Moscow.

House members backed the measure, which also imposes sanctions on Iran and North Korea, by a near-unanimous margin of 419-3, with strong support from Trump's fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, despite objections from Trump, who wanted more control over imposing sanctions.

The sanctions bill coincided with lawmakers taking steps to show they are willing to push hard as they investigate possible meddling by Russia in the 2016 presidential election and potential collusion by Republican Trump's campaign.

Moscow has denied it worked to influence the election in the Republican candidate's favour, and Trump has denied his campaign colluded.

TRT World spoke with William Denselow for the latest.

Only the beginning

The White House said it was reviewing the bill and has expressed support for "tough sanctions on North Korea, Iran and Russia," White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

The combined sanctions bill must pass the Senate before it can be sent to the White House for Trump to sign into law or veto. The latest version of the legislation has run into objections from some Senate members, who are unhappy that the House added new sanctions on North Korea after holding up the measure for more than a month.

Rejecting the bill – which would potentially hamper his hopes of pursuing improved relations with Moscow – would carry a risk that Trump's veto could be overridden by lawmakers.

The bill has raised concerns in the European Union, where the legislation could result in fines for companies helping Russia build gas pipelines like the $11.1 billion (9.5 billion euro) Nord Stream 2 project.

A wider probe

The intense focus on Russia, involving several congressional probes and a separate investigation by a Justice Department-appointed special counsel, has overshadowed Trump's agenda.

The scrutiny has angered and frustrated the president, who calls the investigations a politically motivated witch-hunt fuelled by Democrats who cannot accept his win in last November's election against Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton.

Without offering evidence, Trump lashed out on Twitter on Tuesday about "Ukrainian efforts to sabotage" his presidential campaign in order to aid Clinton. The Ukrainian embassy in Washington denied the accusations.

The Senate Judiciary Committee had been set to compel Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, to testify at a hearing on Wednesday, but rescinded the subpoena late on Tuesday as negotiations over his participation continued.

Manafort has started turning over documents to the committee and is negotiating a date to be interviewed, the panel said in a statement.

The committee is looking at a June 2016 meeting in New York with a Russian lawyer organised by Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. Trump Jr released emails this month that showed he welcomed the prospect of receiving damaging information at the meeting about Clinton.

On Friday, the panel had asked that Manafort and Trump Jr appear at the Wednesday hearing, but a witness list released on Tuesday evening included neither of their names.

Manafort met with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Tuesday morning, his spokesman said.

On Tuesday, Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, spent three hours with the House of Representatives intelligence panel, his second straight day on Capitol Hill answering questions about his contacts with Russians during the campaign.

Kushner had a "very productive session" with the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Representative Adam Schiff said after the meeting.

Republican Representative Michael Conaway said Kushner was "straightforward and forthcoming. He wanted to answer every question that we had."

Kushner, who is now a top aide in Trump's White House, told reporters on Monday he had no part in any Kremlin plot.

US House Republicans on Tuesday rejected a legislative effort by Democrats to obtain Treasury Department documents that could show any ties between the finances of Trump, his inner circle and the Russian government.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies