Cotton: Russia will 'lie and deny' about British spy poisoning

Cotton: Russia will 'lie and deny' about British spy poisoning
© Greg Nash

Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonSentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) Cotton: Reducing mandatory minimum sentencing isn’t reform, it’s jailbreak MORE (R-Ark.) said Tuesday that he expects Russian officials to "lie and deny" about the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy on British soil.

In an interview on conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt's radio show, Cotton said that he expects Russian officials to deflect claims that Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by Russian agents after the two were found unconscious last weekend in southern England. More than 20 people have been hospitalized over possible exposure to the poison, identified as a powerful nerve agent.

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday said Russia was likely behind the attack and gave the country 24 hours to respond.

"Hugh, Theresa May gave a compelling presentation in her speech yesterday to the House of Commons. And I believe the prime minister of our old and strong ally, the United Kingdom," Cotton said of May's declaration that it was highly likely Russia was behind the attack.

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"I believe Ms. May gave Russia until maybe the end of today or tomorrow to respond to it. I suspect the response will be the typical Russian response. They’ll lie and deny," he added.

Cotton went on to suggest retaliatory measures that the U.K. and the U.S. could implement in response to Russia's alleged actions, including renewed sanctions on oil.

"Nothing hurts [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s regime more than $50 or $60 dollar a barrel oil coming from the United States and the North Sea," Cotton said.

"So you don’t have to meet what Vladimir Putin and his regime did in heinous fashion here, in a blow for blow, eye for eye fashion. But we do need to impose a sense of limits and boundaries on his behavior to punish him for this conduct, and to deter such conduct in the future."

President TrumpDonald John TrumpArizona GOP Senate candidate defends bus tour with far-right activist Alyssa Milano protests Kavanaugh in 'Handmaid's Tale' costume Bomb in deadly Yemen school bus attack was manufactured by US firm: report MORE spoke with May on Tuesday about the incident. Earlier in the day, he told reporters that he would take British intelligence at its word that Russia's government was behind the poisoning.

“It sounds to me like it would be Russia based on all of the evidence they have,” Trump said. “I don't know if they've come to a conclusion, but she's calling me today ... it sounds to me like they believe it was Russia, and I would certainly take that finding as fact.”

The White House said Trump during the call "agreed with Prime Minister May that the Government of the Russian Federation must provide unambiguous answers regarding how this chemical weapon, developed in Russia, came to be used in the United Kingdom."