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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 SchumerHouse Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Graham dismisses criticism from Fox Business's Lou Dobbs Lewandowski: Trump 'wants to see every Republican reelected regardless of ... if they break with the president' MORE (D-N.Y.), sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Trump says stimulus deal will happen after election | Holiday spending estimates lowest in four years | Domestic workers saw jobs, hours plummet due to COVID Trump says stimulus deal will happen after election White House hoping for COVID-19 relief deal 'within weeks': spokeswoman 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 BrownBrown says Biden's first moves as president should be COVID relief, voting rights Senators battle over Supreme Court nominee in rare Saturday session Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day MORE (Ohio), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation Democrats brace for nail-biting finish to Senate battle Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  MORE (Ill.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinMurkowski predicts Barrett won't overturn Roe v. Wade Democrats to boycott committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination The Senate should evoke RBG in its confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett MORE (Calif.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharStart focusing on veterans' health before they enlist Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE (Minn.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySchumer says he had 'serious talk' with Feinstein, declines to comment on Judiciary role Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE (Vt.), Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Watchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump Kasie Hunt to host lead-in show for MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' MORE (N.J.), Gary PetersGary Charles PetersThe Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in Jaime Harrison raises million in two weeks for South Carolina Senate bid BlackPAC rolls out Senate race endorsements for the first time MORE (Mich.) and Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedGovernors urge negotiators to include top priorities in final defense policy bill Senate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Overnight Defense: Armed Services chairman unsold on slashing defense budget | Democratic Senate report details 'damage, chaos' of Trump foreign policy | Administration approves .8B Taiwan arms sales MORE (R.I.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate Intel leadership urges American vigilance amid foreign election interference Intel officials say Iran, Russia seeking to influence election Senate Intel leaders warn of election systems threats MORE (Va.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenPlaintiff and defendant from Obergefell v. Hodges unite to oppose Barrett's confirmation Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing House Democrats slam FCC chairman over 'blatant attempt to help' Trump 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 John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE, while Iranian and Chinese actors were interfering in favor of Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska Jeff Daniels narrates new Biden campaign ad for Michigan 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) 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 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 RatcliffeElection officials say they're getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report Hillicon Valley: Treasury sanctions Russian group accused of targeting critical facilities | Appeals court rules Uber, Lyft must comply with labor laws | Biden: Countries that target US elections will 'pay a price' Treasury sanctions Russian group accused of targeting US critical facilities with destructive malware 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.