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Trump administration finally announces Russia sanctions over election meddling

The Trump administration announced Thursday it is enacting new sanctions on Russia, ...

Posted: Mar 16, 2018 5:42 AM
Updated: Mar 16, 2018 5:42 AM

The Trump administration announced Thursday it is enacting new sanctions on Russia, including individuals indicted last month by special counsel Robert Mueller, in a sweeping new effort to punish Moscow for its attempts to interfere in the 2016 US election.

In enacting the sanctions, the administration is finally meeting a congressional mandate to impose measures punishing Moscow for its cyber intrusion. The delay had led to questions over President Donald Trump's willingness to punish Moscow. The new measures, however delayed, amount to the most stringent punishment yet by Trump for Russia's election interference.

In announcing the measures, the administration also disclosed a Russian attempt to penetrate the US energy grid, and said the new sanctions would punish actors for their participation in other major cyberattacks.

The new punishments include sanctions on the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm that produced divisive political posts on American social media platforms during the 2016 presidential election. Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, a financial backer to the Internet Research Agency with deep ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is also included.

Known as "Putin's chef," Prigozhin was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year for his involvement with the Russian troll farm. Sanctions were also applied on 13 other individuals who were indicted by Mueller for their participation in the election meddling efforts.

In addition to those included in Mueller's indictments, sanctions were slapped on two Russian intelligence agencies, the Federal Security Service and the Main Intelligence Directorate, as well as some of their employees.

The administration also accused Moscow of attempting to hack the US energy grid, a previously undisclosed claim that officials said was orchestrated by Russian intelligence.

"The administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in US elections, destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement.

In total, the administration applied new sanctions on five entities and 19 individuals on Thursday, including Russians who posed as Americans and posted content online as part of the IRA's attempts to sow discord ahead of the presidential contest. They came as the US joined European allies in blaming Russia for a nerve agent attack in Britain, deeming the action a "clear violation" of international law.

During a meeting in the Oval Office on Thursday with the Irish Taoiseach, Trump told reporters that "it certainly looks like" the Russians were behind the nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom.

"It looks like it," Trump said. "I spoke with the Prime Minister and we are in deep discussions. A very sad situation."

"Something that should never ever happen, and we are taking it very seriously, as I think are many others," Trump said.

The new sanctions would bar the individuals from traveling to the United States, and freeze whatever assets they may have in the country.

The sanctions were applied through executive power as well as through the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which Congress initially passed this summer hoping to pressure Trump into punishing Russia for its election interference.

Trump signed the bill reluctantly in August, claiming it impinged upon his executive powers and could dampen his attempts to improve ties with Moscow.

The measure imposed an October deadline on the administration to produce lists of individuals and entities that could be subject to potential sanctions and a January deadline to impose them. The law required the administration to identify entities that conduct significant business with the Russian defense and intelligence sectors.

The administration missed both by several weeks, claiming necessary work was underway at the State and Treasury Departments to complete the lists.

The delay was seen as sign of Trump's unwillingness to punish Russia for its meddling, which he has downplayed in the past. Members of Congress expressed frustration that their law, which passed almost unanimously, wasn't being enacted.

The White House said on Thursday that Russia had a decision to make as it moves forward.

"They are going to have to decide whether or not they want to be a good actor or a bad actor," press secretary Sarah Sanders said. "I think you can see from the actions we have taken up until this point we are going to be tough on Russia until they start to change their behavior."

On Thursday, administration officials insisted the new measures weren't the end of their efforts to punish Russia.

"By no means will this constitute the end to our ongoing campaign to instruct Mr. Putin to change his behavior," a senior administration official told reporters.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 294994

Reported Deaths: 6681
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19660230
Hinds18785386
Harrison16679278
Rankin12675264
Jackson12575226
Lee9683160
Madison9448199
Jones7945146
Forrest7204136
Lauderdale6833226
Lowndes6021137
Lamar587680
Lafayette5730113
Washington5218130
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Panola430394
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Warren4126114
Pontotoc408769
Marshall403192
Monroe3988126
Union395174
Neshoba3800168
Lincoln3539102
Hancock346974
Leflore3374118
Sunflower318386
Tate302474
Pike300095
Scott293670
Alcorn291761
Itawamba289675
Yazoo288762
Tippah278565
Copiah277757
Coahoma277568
Simpson274778
Prentiss269758
Wayne253741
Marion252578
Leake252471
Covington248879
Grenada247377
Adams234277
George231745
Newton229452
Winston221675
Jasper213245
Tishomingo212165
Attala206569
Chickasaw201151
Holmes181870
Clay179150
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170539
Clarke169371
Calhoun157828
Smith152731
Yalobusha144836
Greene127633
Walthall124140
Noxubee122829
Montgomery122238
Perry121634
Lawrence120221
Carroll118125
Amite111333
Webster110630
Jefferson Davis101731
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93324
Humphreys92827
Kemper90123
Quitman77114
Franklin76019
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62426
Jefferson62327
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 493252

Reported Deaths: 9929
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson709861374
Mobile36108725
Madison32405455
Tuscaloosa24110410
Montgomery22565500
Shelby21929215
Baldwin19732283
Lee14961153
Morgan13659251
Calhoun13275286
Etowah13176319
Marshall11261209
Houston10086261
Elmore9376185
Limestone9359134
Cullman8891181
St. Clair8822223
Lauderdale8603211
DeKalb8446175
Talladega7517163
Walker6518255
Jackson6492102
Autauga626491
Blount6097127
Colbert6001118
Coffee5245102
Dale4640107
Russell404730
Franklin399177
Covington3957106
Chilton3870100
Escambia377472
Tallapoosa3585142
Clarke343650
Chambers3410110
Dallas3403141
Pike293372
Lawrence282984
Marion281895
Winston246767
Bibb245060
Geneva239670
Marengo235855
Pickens224654
Barbour211551
Hale209768
Fayette200256
Butler196166
Henry182441
Cherokee177038
Monroe166139
Randolph163640
Washington156535
Clay144354
Crenshaw144354
Macon142043
Cleburne137739
Lamar132833
Lowndes131051
Wilcox121825
Bullock116936
Conecuh106724
Perry105527
Sumter98331
Coosa88823
Greene87632
Choctaw55023
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