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Senators unveil bill to stop visas, bring criminal charges for Russian election meddling

August 2, 2018

Senators announced legislation Thursday to impose a new set of sanctions on Russia, seeking to warn Moscow against future meddling while also reassuring European allies of American support, notwithstanding President Trump’s unpredictable approach to them.

The bill harnesses economic sanctions, U.S. immigration law, federal prosecutors and international treaties to try to pressure Russian leaders into a more cooperative stance on the world stage.

And it asks the State Department to consider listing Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

President Vladimir Putin remains a particular target, with the bill calling for a government report on his estimated net worth and assets, and allowing the government to impose economic sanctions on anyone deemed complicit with him in corrupt activities.

“Our goal is to change the status quo and impose crushing sanctions and other measures against Putin’s Russia until he ceases and desists meddling in the US electoral process, halts cyber-attacks on US infrastructure, removes Russia from Ukraine, and ceases efforts to create chaos in Syria,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican.

He’s sponsoring the bill along with Republican Sens. John McCain and Cory Gardner, and Democratic Sens. Robert Menendez, Ben Cardin and Jeanne Shaheen. They are senior members on the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees.

The bill would explicitly reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which appears to be a move to reassure allies troubled by Mr. Trump’s inconsistencies in international relations.

Stopping future meddling in U.S. elections is also a major focus, with the bill pushing federal prosecutors to charge people suspected of hacking election systems, and granting Homeland Security the power to deny visas to anyone deemed to have meddled in a campaign.

Prosecutors would also have broader powers to shut down cyberattack operations.

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