WASHINGTON, D.C. – Amid new public reports that the Intelligence Community has concluded that Russia’s government continues to engage in election interference to influence the outcome of the 2020 presidential elections, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, along with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, today sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin demanding that the administration act. The Senators urged the Trump administration to use existing authorities – including executive orders and the authority Congress granted them in 2017 – to immediately and forcefully impose sanctions on Russia’s government, any Russian actors determined to be responsible for such interference, and those acting on their behalf or providing material or financial support for these election interference efforts.
Sens. Brown, Schumer and Menendez strongly condemned President Trump’s apparent dismissal of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s firm conclusions that the Russian government is reportedly, again, engaging in election interference, and the president’s refusal to impose needed sanctions.
The Senators noted that Congress has provided the Trump administration with a wide range of sanction tools, including in the bipartisan 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), as well as numerous other sanctions authorities, and emphasized that these hard-hitting sanctions authorities were designed to enable the president to target precisely these kinds of extraordinary threats to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.
The Senators demanded that Secretary of State Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin act immediately to identify and target for sanctions all those determined to be responsible for ongoing elections interference.
Their letter can be found here and below:
February 24, 2020
Dear Secretaries Mnuchin and Pompeo:
We write in the wake of widespread public reports about the renewed concerns and conclusions of the US Intelligence Community that the government of the Russian Federation continues to engage in widespread, systematic election interference designed to change the outcome of the 2020 Presidential elections. In light of this information, we urge you to immediately and forcefully impose sanctions on the government of the Russian Federation, any Russian actors determined to be responsible for such interference, and those acting on their behalf or providing material or financial support for these election interference efforts.
Congress has provided you with a range of sanction tools, including those in the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA, P.L. 115-44), and it is long past time for the administration to send a direct, powerful and unmistakable message to President Putin: the US 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 diverse malicious cyber and other sanctions authorities provided for in CAATSA, coupled with the sanctions provided for in the 2016 Executive Order 13694 (related to those engaging in malicious cyber activities against the US) and the annex to EO 13694 (providing for sanctions against a broad range of Russian intelligence actors including the GRU, the FSB, its Special Technology Center in St. Petersburg, and others); Executive Order 13848 (related to election interference) and other authorities rooted in the powerful International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA, 50 U.S.C. §1701) provide a broad range of hard-hitting sanctions tools for such a sanctions targeting effort. These IEEPA authorities are designed to enable the Administration to target precisely these kinds of extraordinary threats to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. There is virtually no national security threat more serious than that posed by those who would systematically undermine confidence in, and the effective operation of, our democratic elections.
We urge you 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 would be an abdication of your responsibility to protect and defend the US from this serious threat to our national security, and to the integrity of our electoral process.
Thank you for your consideration.