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.”

Go deeper

Biden campaign calls Trump's failure to raise Russian bounties with Putin "despicable"

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign on Wednesday said it was "absolutely despicable" that President Trump failed to confront Vladimir Putin with intelligence indicating Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Driving the news: The president told "Axios on HBO" that he never raised the issue with his Russian counterpart, despite speaking to Putin at least eight times since intelligence about the alleged bounties was reportedly included in the President's Daily Brief in late February.

Pentagon chief says U.S. will pull nearly 12,000 troops from Germany

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. Photo: MICHAEL REYNOLDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. will bring about 6,400 troops home from Germany and move about 5,400 more to other countries in Europe, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: President Trump has expressed a desire to remove the troops in the past, accusing Germany of "delinquent" payments to NATO. But the idea has been met with some bipartisan opposition in Congress, as many lawmakers believe removing troops would encourage Russian aggression

Jul 29, 2020 - Podcasts

Podcast: Trump never asked Putin about bounties

In an exclusive interview for "Axios on HBO," President Trump told Jonathan Swan he never confronted Vladimir Putin about intelligence indicating Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S. troops. The full interview with President Trump will air on HBO on Monday August 3rd at 11pm.