Jul 1, 2020 - World

Top Democrat introduces amendment to sanction Putin for alleged Russian bounties

Bob Menendez.

Photo: Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced an amendment on Wednesday that would require the Trump administration to impose asset freezing sanctions on President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials involved in alleged bounties to Taliban-linked militants.

Why it matters: It's the first legislative proposal related to the controversy over the alleged Russian bounty scheme, which President Trump and other top officials have sought to downplay as unverified intelligence.

  • Trump has denied that he was briefed on the matter before it was first reported by the New York Times last week. On Wednesday, he tweeted that the reports are a "Fake News Media Hoax started to slander me & the Republican Party."
  • A follow-up story from the Times reported that the intelligence was included in the written President's Daily Brief in February.

Details: Menendez's proposal to the annual defense bill would seek to ...

  • Impose asset freezing and visa banning sanctions on Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other officials involved in targeting U.S. or allied forces in Afghanistan.
  • Impose banking restrictions on entities across the Russian defense sector.
  • Expand sanctions against Russian oligarchs who are close to Putin.

What he's saying: “As more details continue to surface on this despicable Russian campaign, Donald Trump has proven once again that he is incapable of protecting our troops and our country." Menendez said in a statement.

  • "Congress must again step up and defend our people and institutions from Kremlin aggression. It would be unconscionable if the Senate let this moment pass. The NDAA should not move forward without consideration of this amendment.”
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