Senate unveils series of hearings on Russia

Senate unveils series of hearings on Russia
© Greg Nash

Two Senate panels are planning a series of hearings to review the Trump administration’s policies toward Russia and examine whether additional sanctions against the country are warranted.

The Senate Foreign Relations and Banking committees will hold the hearings after President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE’s joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week set off a storm of criticism and prompted pushback from Senate Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats press FBI, DHS on response to white supremacist violence The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic field narrows with Inslee exit McConnell rejects Democrats' 'radical movement' to abolish filibuster MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters on Tuesday that he tasked the chairmen of the Senate committees, Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.) and Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoA US-UK free trade agreement can hold the Kremlin to account Oversight Republicans demand answers on Capital One data breach On The Money: Fed cuts rates for first time since financial crisis | Trump rips Fed after chief casts doubt on future cuts | Stocks slide | Senate kicks budget vote amid scramble for GOP support MORE (R-Idaho), to “recommend to the Senate additional measures that could respond to or deter Russian malign behavior.”

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The hearings will begin Wednesday when Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Putin orders response to US missile test The Hill's Morning Report: How will Trump be received at G-7? MORE testifies before the Foreign Relations panel about what was discussed between Trump and Putin during a two-hour private meeting last week.

“I most want to know what President Trump committed to President Putin at the Helsinki conference in the two hours about which we know very little except what Russia is selectively leaking or characterizing,” said Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsThe United States broken patent system is getting worse Biden faces scrutiny for his age from other Democrats Democrats press FBI for details on Kavanaugh investigation MORE (D-Del.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said last week that Trump and Putin made “important verbal agreements” related to arms control and cooperation in Syria.

The Foreign Relations Committee is planning additional hearings on the value of the NATO security alliance; the broad challenges facing U.S.-Russia policy; Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad; as well as arms control issues, including allegations that Russia violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The Banking Committee will look at legislation that would strengthen sanctions beyond the penalties that Congress voted overwhelmingly last year to impose.

The panel will review the implementation of last year’s sanctions bill and “what other tools can be used” to further deter Russia, according to a joint statement from the committees.

“We worked closely together to write the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which substantially expanded sanctions on Russia and overwhelmingly passed both the Senate and House last summer, and are eager to continue the important work being done by our committees to push back on Russia,” Corker and Crapo said in the statement.