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NSC to recommend Trump expel Russian diplomats over spy attack: report

NSC to recommend Trump expel Russian diplomats over spy attack: report
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The National Security Council (NSC) is expected to recommend that President TrumpDonald TrumpIran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries Pardon-seekers have paid Trump allies tens of thousands to lobby president: NYT MORE expel a yet-unknown number of Russian diplomats from the country in response to the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in Britain that both Washington and London believe was committed by Russian agents.

CNN reports that the NSC is expected to make the recommendation late Friday. Trump could act on the recommendation as early as next week, according to a CNN source involved in the discussions.

The president met earlier this week with the NSC to discuss multiple responses to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, an ex-Russian spy who was poisoned along with his daughter in Britain earlier this month. The recommendation will be the outcome of that meeting, according to CNN's sources.

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At least 20 people have been hospitalized as a result of possible exposure to the poison, a deadly Soviet-era nerve agent that U.S. and British authorities say is most likely linked back to Russian intelligence.

If the U.S. does expel diplomats, the move would follow a similar decision by the U.K. last week to expel 23 Russian diplomats from the country. 

British Prime Minister Theresa May laid full blame for the incident at Russia's feet, calling the attack "a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil."

The U.S. government has agreed with May's assessment of the attack and earlier this week joined the British government in refusing to attend a Russian-held briefing meant to present an alternative explanation for the attack.

"US & UK were right not to send our Ambassadors to @mfa_russia briefing to hear wild accusations and implausible denials," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert tweeted. "#Russia was responsible for the nerve agent attack. Attempts to deny responsibility follow a familiar script: Crimea, MH17, Donbas, Litvinenko, doping, etc..."

Russia has denied responsibility for the poisoning, and condemned the U.S. and U.K.'s responses to the attack.

“It’s another vivid example of the absurd situation when questions are asked and an unwillingness to hear even any answers is demonstrated,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.