Three top Senate Democrats on Monday sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin calling for sanctions on the Russian government "in the wake of widespread public reports" of attempts to influence the 2020 presidential election.
The letter is signed by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
The senators point to "a range of sanction tools," including 2017 Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, saying "it is long past time for the administration to send a direct, powerful and unmistakable 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."
Though intelligence officials did recently brief the House Intelligence Committee on Russia, CNN and Rhe Associated Press have since reported Shelby Pierson, of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's election security, overstated Russia's interference in the 2020 election when she went off script and said Russia wanted President Donald Trump re-elected, seeing him most favorable to its interests.
Another intelligence official involved in the briefing told CNN that is was more accurate to say Russia sees Trump as someone "they understand" and "the president is someone they can work with, he's a dealmaker."
Nevertheless, the senators' letter urges Pompeo and Mnuchin to "immediately draw upon the reported conclusions of the Intelligence Community to identify and target for sanctions all those determined to be responsible for ongoing elections interference, including President Putin, the government of the Russian Federation, any Russian actors determined to be directly responsible, and those acting on their behalf or providing material or financial support for their efforts.
"Doing anything less," they say, "would be an abdication of your responsibility to protect and defend the U.S. from this serious threat to our national security, and to the integrity of our electoral process."
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