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Trump Adviser Says Sanctions Against Russia Could Get ‘Tougher’


Gary Cohn, the top White House economic adviser to President Trump, said Friday that the U.S. is not lifting — and could actually toughen — sanctions against Russia.

“We’re not lowering our sanctions on Russia. If anything, we would probably look to get tougher,” Cohn told reporters flying on Air Force 1.

Those comments are a clarification of remarks Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive, made on Thursday in which he suggested that Trump was “looking” at lifting sanctions against Russia.

“I think the president is looking at it. Right now, we don’t have a position,” Cohn told reporters about the U.S. position on sanctions.

Despite that claim, the U.S. does have a stance on sanctions against Russia.

The Obama administration implemented stiff penalties against Russia over its invasion of Crimea in 2014 as well as for its cyber attacks during last year’s presidential campaign.

Several Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Nikki Haley, the ambassador to the United Nations, have said that the U.S. will not lift sanctions until Russia leaves Ukraine.

Cohn’s comments stoked fears that Trump was backing away from that position. Trump critics also saw Cohn’s remarks as evidence that the Republican is too soft on Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s harshest critics believe that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the election in exchange for certain concessions should he be elected president.

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