Senate Democrats urge Trump administration to impose sanctions on Russia for election interference

Senate Democrats urge Trump administration to impose sanctions on Russia for election interference
© Bonnie Cash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots Schumer doubles down in call for Trump to name coronavirus supply czar Trump lashes out at Schumer over call for supply czar MORE (D-N.Y.) and other senior Senate Democrats on Monday called on the Treasury and State departments to impose sanctions on Russian individuals found to be meddling in U.S. elections following reports of new interference efforts.

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOrganizing evacuations during a shutdown The Saudi-Russia oil fight is the last thing the economy needs in a pandemic US intel agencies conclude China has under-reported coronavirus cases, deaths: report MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinMurkowski pushes Mnuchin for oil company loans 17 things to know today about coronavirus The Memo: Scale of economic crisis sends shudders through nation MORE, the Senate Democrats pointed to concerns about reports last week that Russian agents are already interfering in the lead-up to the 2020 U.S. elections in order to boost the campaigns of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMilitary personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has total of 20 patients: report Fauci says that all states should have stay-at-home orders MORE and Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHuffPost political reporter on why Bernie fell way behind Biden Schumer: Administration 'must move heaven and earth' to implement new unemployment benefits Biden associates reach out to Holder about VP search MORE (I-Vt.). 

“In light of this information, we urge you to immediately and forcefully impose sanctions on the government of the Russian Federation, any Russian actors determined to be responsible for such interference, and those acting on their behalf or providing material or financial support for these election interference efforts,” Schumer and Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownLawmakers press IRS to get coronavirus checks to seniors Democrats press Mnuchin to defend T coronavirus stimulus IG Senator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy MORE (D-Ohio) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezHillicon Valley: Facebook launches portal for coronavirus information | EU sees spike in Russian misinformation on outbreak | Senate Dem bill would encourage mail-in voting | Lawmakers question safety of Google virus website Democratic senators press Google over privacy of coronavirus screening site Menendez calls for 'Marie Yovanovitch bill' to protect foreign service employees MORE (D-N.J.) wrote. 

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Brown serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, while Menendez is the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

The senators called on Mnuchin and Pompeo to use existing statutory powers to impose sanctions on individuals including Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinHow oil tariffs can unite strange political bedfellows Overnight Energy: Trump says global oil production could be cut by 15M barrels | Trump to rent storage space to oil producers | EPA defends move to suspend pollution monitoring Putin tells Russians to stay home all month amid coronavirus threat MORE and other Russian government officials. 

The senators warned that “doing anything less” than imposing sanctions on those interfering in U.S. elections would be “an abdication of your responsibility to protect and defend the US from this serious threat to our national security, and to the integrity of our electoral process.”

The State and Treasury departments did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on the letter. 

Senate Democrats have pushed hard for passage of legislation over the past years to strengthen U.S. elections against foreign interference but have been blocked by Republicans, who have cited concerns that the pieces of legislation would federalize elections, multiple times.

Election security has become a major source of concern since the 2016 elections, during which, according to U.S. intelligence agencies and the report compiled by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE, Russian agents launched a sweeping interference effort designed to favor Trump's campaign.