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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

Oct 8, 2020 - World

Trump admin plans to reduce U.S. troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 by 2021

An Afghan border forces soldier stands guard at a U.S. forces base, which has been handed over to Afghan border forces in Dih Bala district of Nangarhar province, eastern Afghanistan, inj July. Photo: Saifurahman Safi/Xinhua via Getty Images

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said Wednesday the U.S. would cut its number of troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 by early 2021, per Reuters.

Details: "When President Trump took office, there were over 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan," O’Brien said at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, event. "As of today there are under 5,000 and that will go to 2,500 by early next year."

37 mins ago - World

Netanyahu campaigns against Biden's plan to save Iran deal

Netanyahu campaigns at a gym last month. Photo: Pool/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly criticized the Biden administration for its intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal and told his supporters he was prepared to "stand against the entire world" to stop it.

Why it matters: This is a major change of tune for Netanyahu, who had been careful in his statements on the Iran deal and avoided publicly criticizing President Biden. The statement was part of Netanyahu's attempt to rally his base ahead of Israel's election on March 23.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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