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Trump administration set to slap sanctions on Russians for election interference

National Intelligence Director Dan Coats told a Senate committee Tuesday that the Trump administration was going to slap sanctions on Russia for election interference. The sanctions, Coats said, could come "within a week." (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Trump administration will “very shortly” bring sanctions against the 13 Russians mentioned in Robert Mueller’s indictment, according to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. These sanctions could come “within a week.”

Coats made the announcement to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. The sanctions will go beyond those 13 Russians, but Coats said that he was not aware of who else the sanctions would target.

According to Coats, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin “very shortly will be bringing out a list of sanctions on those individuals that had been complicit.”

Coats also said that the administration is “fully aware” of the threat that Russian election interference poses. He added that “there obviously is concern [from the White House] about this ongoing effort of Russians to interfere with our elections" and that “agencies have been tasked to address” Russian cyberattacks in 2016.

The “within a week” part is what makes this announcement particularly important. On Feb. 23, Mnuchin said in a White House briefing that the administration would consider sanctions against Russia after the Mueller indictment, but he had kept the timeline to a much more general “within the next several weeks.” Mnuchin also did not clarify that the sanctions would be against the 13 Russians named in the indictment and go beyond that.

On Feb. 16, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and an additional three Russian companies on charges of attempting to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

Coats also assured committee members that President Donald Trump was not preventing the intelligence community from investigating how to deal with a cyber threat. Trump apparently told Coats, “I assume you’re doing your job, all of you ... but if you need me to say, direct you to do it, do it.” However, when pressed by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Coats clarified that “I did not understand it to be said in the context of Russian influence in the elections.”

One senator asked Coats if he believed Trump was allowing him to deal with cyber threats because on Feb. 27 NSA Director Mike Rogers testified to Congress that Trump had not given him authority to stop Russian election hacking. Mike Rogers, an Obama appointee, is expected to retire soon. The Senate Armed Services Committee aHis replacement, Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning.

One last thing…
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