New sanctions against Russia will probably be unveiled “within a week” and will include measures against the 13 Russians indicted last month in the special counsel’s probe of election interference, the nation’s top intelligence official told senators Tuesday.
Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “very shortly will be bringing out a list of sanctions on those individuals that had been complicit” in the cyber-measures described in the charges announced by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s office. Coats also said the list would go beyond those 13 names in the indictment.
He added that he did not know what other names would be on Mnuchin’s list, although the intelligence agencies had provided the Treasury Department with information on others.
Congress and the White House have been at odds over the Trump administration’s refusal to implement additional sanctions against Russian officials and entities. Last year, Congress almost unanimously passed a law stepping up mandatory sanctions against Russia’s defense, energy and banking sectors, as well as intelligence, railways, metals and mining industries. But the White House never officially designated the targets of those sanctions, concluding in January that the threat of sanctions by itself was enough of a “deterrent.”
Last month, Mnuchin said that he would consider applying sanctions against the 13 Russians and three companies Mueller named in an indictment of participants in a Russian-organized online influence campaign to spread discord in the U.S. electorate before the 2016 election.
The indictment prompted a wave of partisan finger-pointing. Republicans accused the Obama administration of having been too soft on Russia, while Democrats excoriated the Trump administration for not taking decisive steps to punish or repudiate Moscow’s efforts at electoral interference.
“Why on earth hasn’t the administration found anyone to sanction?” Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Armed Services and Intelligence committees, asked Coats on Tuesday.
Democrats also pressed Coats to explain why President Trump had not authorized the intelligence community to do more to prevent Russian aggression. Adm. Michael S. Rogers, National Security Agency director, told senators last week that the president had given him no new authority or capability for such actions ahead of the midterm elections.
Coats said during Tuesday’s hearing that he had discussed the intelligence community’s cyberthreat response with Trump since Rogers’s testimony and that Trump’s response had been: “I assume you’re doing your job, all of you . . . but if you need me to say, direct you to do it, do it.”
But when asked by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to clarify his comments, Coats added that his discussions with the president had been “relative to the cyber issue and the direction to go forward on cyber.”
“I did not understand it to be said in the context of Russian influence in the elections,” Coats said.
Neither the Trump administration nor any of the three congressional committees looking into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections has yet publicly released recommendations, legislation or other policy instructions for how states ought to contend with the threat the intelligence community has warned Russia will pose to the 2018 midterms. The Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to release recommendations this month.