McCain, Cardin urge Trump to impose tougher sanctions on Russia
© Camille Fine

Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore GOP strategist: 'There needs to be a repudiation' of Roy Moore by Republicans World leaders reach agreement on trade deal without United States: report MORE (R-Ariz.) and Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinFacebook farce shows lawmaker deviousness, demagoguery Dem senator wants details on Manafort's multiple passports US backs out of global oil anti-corruption effort MORE (D-Md.) are urging President Trump to enforce a bill slapping tougher sanctions on Moscow ahead of a deadline for the administration to detail how it will enact the law. 

The two senators sent a letter this week to Trump saying it was “critical” for his administration to “robustly enforce” the law, which cleared the Senate in a 98-2 vote. 

“As critical deadlines are approaching, it is imperative that your administration implement the law to its fullest extent to uphold and protect American interests,” wrote McCain, who is the chairman on the Armed Services Committee, and Cardin, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations panel. 

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The administration is required to issue guidance by the start of October on who is part of Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors, meaning they will be targeted by the new sanctions law. 

The White House late Friday released a lengthy memo outsourcing the decision to secretaries of State and Treasury and the Director of National Intelligence.

In their letter, Cardin and McCain said they wanted the Treasury and State Departments to brief them on the administration's “overall sanctions implementation plan with respect to Russia.”

The two senators urged the administration to take a “wide range” on who could be included under the two sectors, warning Russia could try to work around the sanctions. 

“As the Russian Federation is the second largest arms exporter in the world, arms purchases remain an area of vigilant oversight. The administration should also take full advantage of a provision of the law that allows it to urge countries to significantly decrease Russian arms purchases to avoid sanctions,” they wrote. 

The two senators added that Trump should also fully enforce the separate energy sanctions and coordinate with European allies. 

Trump signed the sanctions law last month, but slammed the bill as “seriously flawed” and said it contained “a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions.” 

The legislation slapped new penalties on Moscow and also blocked Trump's ability to lift sanctions unilaterally. It also included new sanctions against Iran and North Korea.