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Graham, Menendez crafting bill to crack down on Russia

Graham, Menendez crafting bill to crack down on Russia
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Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Memo: Trump in a corner on Saudi Arabia Trump should stick to his guns and close failed South Carolina nuclear MOX project CNN's Smerconish: What do Saudis have over American presidents? MORE (R-S.C.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezTrump lowers refugee goal to 30,000, he must meet it Blame Senate, not FBI, for Kavanaugh travesty Dems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints MORE (D-N.J.) are working on legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia as Congress faces pressure to crack down in the wake of the Helsinki summit.

“Just as Vladimir Putin has made clear his intention to challenge American power, influence, and security interests at home and abroad, the United States must make it abundantly clear that we will defend our nation and not waver in our rejection of his effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia’s future,” Menendez and Graham said in a joint statement referring to the Russian leader on Tuesday.

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In addition to making sure the 2017 sanctions legislation, which passed Congress overwhelmingly, is fully implemented, the forthcoming Graham-Menendez bill includes new sanctions on Russia’s debt and energy and financial sectors.

It would also target cyber actors in Russia and Russian oligarchs.

The legislation comes as senators are weighing how to respond to Moscow after President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council MORE refused to denounce Russian meddling in the 2016 president election during last week’s summit with Putin in Helsinki.

Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerThe Memo: Trump in a corner on Saudi Arabia Corker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE (R-Tenn.) and Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoLawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks GOP loads up lame-duck agenda as House control teeters Republicans shift course after outside counsel falters MORE (R-Idaho) said on Tuesday that they would hold Russia sanctions hearings, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats slide in battle for Senate McConnell and wife confronted by customers at restaurant Pelosi, Schumer: Trump 'desperate' to put focus on immigration, not health care MORE (R-Ky.) publicly endorsed the idea last week.

In addition to the forthcoming Menendez-Graham legislation, Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioO'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot Meghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family The Memo: Saudi storm darkens for Trump MORE (R-Fla.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDem senator: 'Shameful' seeing Trump serve as 'mouthpiece' for Saudi leaders Overnight Defense: Trump says 'rogue killers' could be behind missing journalist | Sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | Saudis may claim Khashoggi killed by accident | Ex-VA chief talks White House 'chaos' | Most F-35s cleared for flight Democrats torch Trump for floating 'rogue killers' to blame for missing journalist MORE (D-Md.) have a bill that would slap sanctions on Russia if the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) determined the Kremlin meddled in future elections.

But Graham told reporters that he wanted legislation that would automatically slap new sanctions on Russia.

"Yes, I would even go further. I'm going to introduce legislation that imposes sanctions and they can be waived only if there's a certification by the DNI and others that they've stopped. ...I want to go ahead and assume they're doing it because they are,” he told reporters last week.

In addition to new sanctions, the Graham-Menendez bill would require Senate approval for the United States withdrawing from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, establish the National Center to Respond to Russian Threats and authorize assistance for fighting Russian interference in Eastern Europe.