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Senate Democrats again press Trump administration to sanction Russia

Schumer, Brown and Menendez argue Treasury and State departments already have authority

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is from New York, and so is Junior’s Cheesecake.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is from New York, and so is Junior’s Cheesecake. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Three top Senate Democrats are pressing the Treasury Department and the State Department to impose new sanctions on Russia in response to reports of attempts to interfere in the 2020 presidential election.

The letter from Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs ranking member Sherrod Brown and Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Menendez comes after reports that U.S. intelligence officials believe the Russian government may be seeking to help the candidacies of both President Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is seeking the Democratic party’s nomination.

The Democratic senators from New York, Ohio and New Jersey, respectively, are citing a variety of tools that have already been made available to the executive branch, including those under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017.

“We urge you to immediately draw upon the reported conclusions of the Intelligence Community to identify and target for sanctions all those determined to be responsible for ongoing elections interference, including President [Vladimir] Putin, the government of the Russian Federation, any Russian actors determined to be directly responsible, and those acting on their behalf or providing material or financial support for their efforts,” the Democratic senators wrote. “Doing anything less would be an abdication of your responsibility to protect and defend the US from this serious threat to our national security, and to the integrity of our electoral process.”

Democrats have long contended the Republican-led Senate should do more to counter Russian interference efforts, but Monday’s letter contends the Trump administration should already be imposing sanctions on Russia.

“There is virtually no national security threat more serious than that posed by those who would systematically undermine confidence in, and the effective operation of, our democratic elections,” the lawmakers wrote.

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