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Senators seek sanctions on Russia for election meddling

US senators say Russian President Vladimir Putin's government needs to face sanctions for ongoing interference in the 2020 US election - Alexey NIKOLSKY / ©AFP
US senators say Russian President Vladimir Putin's government needs to face sanctions for ongoing interference in the 2020 US election - Alexey NIKOLSKY / ©AFP

(AFP)

Democratic senators pressed the US Treasury Thursday to place sanctions on Russian organizations and individuals for interfering in the election, saying intelligence shows Moscow is seeking to damage Joe Biden’s candidacy.

Eleven senators asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a letter to “immediately” place sanctions on a range of Russians, citing an August 7 US counterintelligence statement on their meddling.

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“It is long past time for the administration to send a direct message to President (Vladimir) Putin: the US will respond immediately and forcefully to continuing election interference,” said the letter to Mnuchin.

Led by Ron Wyden of Oregon, the senators asked Mnuchin to work with US intelligence to identify those Russians involved in election meddling.

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

Democrats have expressed frustration that President Donald Trump’s administration has taken no apparent action over alleged election interference from Russia, Iran, North Korea and China. 

Democrats fear a repeat of 2016, when Russian interference benefited Trump’s presidential campaign, according to US intelligence.

The August 7 statement said China would prefer that Biden wins, but said Russia is actively working against him.

“Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former vice president Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment,'” the statement said.

Since then, however, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe has refused to provide any more briefings to Congress on election meddling, saying he would simply send written summaries.

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