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Republicans on Obama's Russian Sanctions: 'It's About Time'

Image: Republicans on Obama's Russian Sanctions: 'It's About Time'

Mitch McConnell (Getty Images/Alex Wong)

By    |   Thursday, 29 Dec 2016 06:40 PM

Republicans said President Barack Obama's sanctions Thursday against Russian hacking were a long overdue first step — and President-elect Donald Trump said he would meet with intelligence officials next week on the issue.

"It's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things," Trump said in a statement. "Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the sanctions reflected President Obama's weak foreign policy during his two terms in the White House.

"Sanctions against the Russian intelligence services are a good initial step, however late in coming," McConnell said. "As the next Congress reviews Russian actions against networks associated with the U.S. election, we must also work to ensure that any attack against the United States is met with an overwhelming response.

"The Russians are not our friends," he added. "And clearly the Obama administration has not yet dissuaded them from attempting to breach our cybersecurity systems, or harass our diplomats in Moscow."

Florida Rep. Ted Yoho said President Obama should have consulted Trump before announcing the sanctions.

"I don't want to defend Russia if they had a hand in this, but I don't support these in the way President Obama is going about this," Yoho, a GOP member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Jim Sciutto on CNN.

"If President Obama is 100 percent sure in this, I would have thought he would have had the maturity, the foresight, to deal with Donald Trump and bring him into the process.

"He is the one that's got to ride this pony after it's been let out of the barn," Yoho said.

Obama announced executive orders that expelled 35 diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in response to Moscow's hacking during the presidential election and for harassing American diplomats.

The diplomats were declared persona non grata for acting in a "manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status" and were ordered to leave the United States within 72 hours.

Obama added the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security would soon provide specific evidence to Congress linking Moscow to the cyberattacks.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Obama administration officials notified a "senior member" of Trump's transition team of Obama's announcement earlier Thursday.

It was not clear Thursday whether Trump could reverse the actions once he takes office next month.

In Moscow, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said Russia regretted the sanctions and the Kremlin was considering retaliatory steps.

Overall, Republicans characterized President Obama's actions as long overdue.

"It's about time," Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger told Jake Tapper on CNN. "It's taken long enough.

"This is an important first step to saying to the Russians that we are not one of your former satellite states.

"We are the United States of America — and you will not mess around with our election system," he added. "You will not mess around with Europe anymore and the Middle East.
"It's an important step to push back."

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Obama's move was "an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia."

"Russia does not share America’s interests," the Wisconsin Republican said. "In fact, it has consistently sought to undermine them, sowing dangerous instability around the world.

"While today's action by the administration is overdue, it is an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia," he added. "And it serves as a prime example of this administration's ineffective foreign policy that has left America weaker in the eyes of the world."

Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain said Obama's actions were "a small price for Russia to pay for its brazen attack on American democracy.

"We intend to lead the effort in the new Congress to impose stronger sanctions on Russia."

McCain, who represents Arizona, is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Graham, of South Carolina, sits on the panel.

Yoho told Sciutto he hoped improved diplomatic relations with Moscow could lead Trump to roll back Obama's actions.

"If Russia has — I am not 100 percent convinced that they did this solely — but if they did do that, there has to be some payback," he said. "But I disagree with President Obama saying it's going to be covertly and overtly.

"I don't think he should announce these things," Yoho added. "I think it should be done diplomatically.

"I think he should have included president-elect Donald Trump."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Republicans said President Barack Obama's sanctions Thursday against Russian hacking were a long overdue first step – and President-elect Donald Trump said he would meet with intelligence officials next week on the issue.
Republicans, sanctions, hacking, diplomats
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2016-40-29
Thursday, 29 Dec 2016 06:40 PM
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