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Top Democrats press Trump to sanction Russian individuals over 2020 election interference efforts

Top Democrats press Trump to sanction Russian individuals over 2020 election interference efforts

A group of leading Senate Democrats on Thursday called on the Trump administration to impose sanctions on Russians for recent efforts to interfere in the November U.S. elections.

The top Democrats on 10 Senate committees, along with Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Pro-tax millionaires protesting in front of Bezos's homes Student debt cancellation advocates encouraged by Biden, others remain skeptical MORE (D-N.Y.), sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says MORE urging him to impose sanctions on specific Kremlin-linked individuals.

“Congress mandated a broad range of sanctions tools, and it is long past time for the administration to send a direct message to President Putin: the U.S. will respond immediately and forcefully to continuing election interference by the government of the Russian Federation and its surrogates, to punish, deter and substantially increase the economic and political costs of such interference,” the Senate Democrats wrote.

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The letter was signed by Schumer and Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe 'frills' of Biden's infrastructure plan are real needs Senate Democrats offer bill to scrap tax break for investment managers Wyden: Funding infrastructure with gas tax hike a 'big mistake' MORE (Ohio), Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Manchin, Murkowski call for bipartisan Voting Rights Act reauthorization Schumer in bind over fight to overhaul elections MORE (Ill.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Infrastructure deal imperiled by differences on financing If you want Julie Su at the DOL, don't point to her resume MORE (Calif.), Amy KlobucharAmy Klobuchar Klobuchar offers tribute to her father, who died Wednesday The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Senate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill MORE (Minn.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate This week: House to vote on Jan. 6 Capitol attack commission Gaetz compares allegations against him to earmarks: 'Everybody knows that that's the corruption' MORE (Vt.), Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Tensions mount among Democrats over US-Israel policy Senate Democrats ramp up push to limit Biden's war powers MORE (N.J.), Gary PetersGary PetersSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Hillicon Valley: Global cybersecurity leaders say they feel unprepared for attack | Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan | Senate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech Senate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech MORE (Mich.) and Jack ReedJack ReedBiden officials testify that white supremacists are greatest domestic security threat Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal Overnight Defense: Former Navy secretary reportedly spent .4M on travel | Ex-Pentagon chief Miller to testify on Jan. 6 Capitol attack | Austin to deliver West Point commencement speech MORE (R.I.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenators offer bill to allow remote online notarizations Second suspected 'Havana Syndrome' case near White House under investigation: report Warner: Hack-reporting law 'one of the few areas left where there's broad bipartisan support' MORE (Va.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Texas to cut off 0 weekly emergency unemployment benefit IRS to start monthly payments of child tax credit July 15 MORE (Ore.).

In their letter, the senators pointed to a recent analysis by William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, which concluded that Russia was attempting to interfere in the 2020 election in favor of President TrumpDonald TrumpGOP-led Maricopa County board decries election recount a 'sham' Analysis: Arpaio immigration patrol lawsuit to cost Arizona county at least 2 million Conservatives launch 'anti-cancel culture' advocacy organization MORE, while Iranian and Chinese actors were interfering in favor of Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden's quiet diplomacy under pressure as Israel-Hamas fighting intensifies Overnight Defense: Administration approves 5M arms sale to Israel | Biden backs ceasefire in call with Netanyahu | Military sexual assault reform push reaches turning point CDC mask update sparks confusion, opposition MORE.

Evanina wrote that "Kremlin-linked actors" were attempting to "boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television," and that "pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach is spreading claims about corruption" in regards to Biden. 

The senators urged Mnuchin to use powers created by a 2018 executive order that allows the Treasury secretary to impose sanctions in the event of foreign interference in the U.S. election.

“As many of us have observed, there is virtually no national security threat more serious than that posed by those who would undermine confidence in, and the effective operation of, our democratic elections,” they added.

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

The U.S. has previously imposed sanctions on multiple Russians and on the Internet Research Agency, a Russian-backed troll farm, for interfering in the 2018 midterm elections through spreading disinformation on social media.

The Internet Research Agency and several of the same Russians were also sanctioned by the Treasury Department in 2018 for interfering in U.S. elections two years earlier through the use of cyberattacks and other techniques.

According to the U.S. intelligence community, along with the Senate Intelligence Committee and the report compiled by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE, Russian agents launched a sweeping and sophisticated interference effort ahead of the 2016 presidential election in favor of Trump.

Democrats have raised serious concerns this week following the decision by Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeStrange bedfellows: UFOs are uniting Trump's fiercest critics, loyalists Trump alumni launch America First Policy Institute Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye two-part infrastructure push; Michigan coronavirus cases surge MORE to halt in-person congressional briefings on election security, and instead submit written statements.

Ratcliffe accused members of Congress of leaking information from recent briefings following public comments from leading Democrats that the intelligence community was attempting to equate Russian interference with efforts from Iran and China, with Democrats alleging that Russia’s efforts are far greater.