President Donald Trump's decision impose a sweeping set of sanctions against Russian oligarchs was a reaction to several of Russia's activities in recent years, including election meddling in the United States, Mercedes Schlapp, the president's senior adviser for strategic communications, said Friday morning.
"These are dealing with issues of election meddling, among other things," Schlapp told Fox News' "Fox & Friends," explaining the move was made in response to a law signed by the president to hold Russia accountable for its actions.
She agreed with show co-host Steve Doocy that the move was also made in response to Russia's actions in Crimea and Ukraine, as well as its work in cyber activities.
"The administration has been tough on Russia," Schlapp said. "We worked closely with Ukraine. You saw the action we took expelling 60 Russians from our country."
The sanctions are part of a "continuing process" to hold Russia responsible for its actions, Schlapp added, but at the same time, the Trump administration wants to have good relationships with Russia.
"Of course, that would include that Russia does not move forward with bad behavior," she said, pointing out that when Russia recently attempted to use a nerve gas agent to kill a former spy in Great Britain, the United States stood behind its allies, not Moscow.
NBC reported Friday that senior administration officials pointed out that the sanctions, that target oligarchs, top officials, and key businesses such as a weapons trading company and a bank, were made to take action against the "totality of the Russian government's ongoing and increasingly malign activities in the world."
The sanctions were levied by the Treasury Department against seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they either control or own.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement that the "Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites."
The administration has imposed sanctions against 136 individuals and entities since Trump was sworn in in 2017.
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