USA senators push sanctions to send Putin election meddling warning

Open source

This, from a Congress which on a rare good day this year enjoys a 19% approval rating, because the only bipartisan action it appears capable of undertaking is against President Trump's moves to crush the geopolitical order which has driven the USA into endless wars.

Trump, meanwhile, goes back and forth about what he says he believes or accepts. Just hours before, Trump had stood beside Putin in Helsinki and expressed doubts about whether Russia interfered with the US election in 2016, despite the fact that the US Department of Justice issued against a dozen Russian intelligence agents last week.

Many members of Congress had objected to the two leaders meeting again in the fall and said Putin would not be welcome on Capitol Hill. But he said, without offering evidence, "they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats".

President Donald Trump last week invited Putin to visit Washington this autumn in the aftermath of their summit in Helsinki.

Trump, who has offered mixed messages on Russian interference in USA elections — at times even calling it a "hoax" — acknowledged in a tweet that the midterms are a likely target.

Trump has frequently referred to Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling and whether anyone close to Trump colluded in it as a "witch hunt" and blamed the probe for hurting relations between the two countries. The U.S. director of national intelligence would be required to conclude if any foreign nations interfered in elections one month after Americans cast their votes, triggering strict sanctions within 10 days if interference was detected. I have tremendous faith in Dan Coats. Instead, the Kentucky Republican issued a direct warning to Russian Federation to back off.

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Trump came under widespread criticism following his handling of a summit with NATO's leaders and his meeting last week with Putin.

"We are fully committed to ensuring Congress maintains an active role in both confronting Russian aggression and ensuring that the Executive Branch takes the necessary steps to protect the USA and our allies", the senators said in a joint statement released Tuesday.

The legislation, deep inside a massive bill authorizing USA military programs, still has to be approved by the full House and Senate.

House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, also a Republican, said on Thursday Putin would not be invited to address a joint session of Congress if he accepts Trump's invitation to visit, saying that was an honor reserved for allies.

Last Thursday, he and Mr Van Hollen, noting the "urgency of the challenge before our nation", wrote to the chairmen of the Senate Banking and Foreign Relations committees pressing them to hold hearings on the legislation before the start of an early August recess.

Mr Trump has repeatedly spoken of the Russian president in glowing terms, congratulating him for his election victory against the advice of senior White House officials.

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