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27 July 2018, 10:01 | Tara Lloyd
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Senator Lindsey Graham said additional sanctions must be teed up before President Donald Trump holds a second meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the US leader came under heavy criticism for failing to confront Putin about interference in the 2016 election at a summit last Monday.
The expression of concern about Russian meddling is a change in tone for the president, who has repeatedly expressed doubts about Russia's role in interfering in the 2016 US election.
It also wasn't clear upon what basis Bolton believes that Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigation Trump calls the "witch hunt" to which Bolton alluded, might be finished by December 31.
Despite intelligence reports confirming the interference, Trump stated at the news conference that he didn't see a reason that Russian Federation would meddle in the elections.
"I'm very concerned that Russian Federation will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election", Trump wrote.
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"If our bill passes and the director of national intelligence says they interfered in 2018, these very tough sanctions will hit them. They definitely don't want Trump!" the Republican president wrote on Twitter.
"You need to work with Congress to come up with new sanctions because Putin's not getting the message", Mr Graham said on CBS' Face The Nation programme.
In the same paragraph, however, Reuters noted that Putin denied any Russian meddling in the United States elections, illustrating the freaky dichotomy of Putin's words suddenly being treated as gospel truth when they seem to agree with the U.S. intelligence narrative, but being treated as worthless otherwise.
There is now no publicly available evidence to support the president's claim that the Kremlin is interested in helping Democrats in the fall election.
Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina criticized Trump directly. Trump has said there was no collusion between his campaign and Russian Federation. "The issue of meddling is one thing, the issue of the president colluding is another and that is indeed a witch hunt".
"Providing the Secretary of State with a CAATSA waiver authority is imperative", US Secretary of State Jim Mattis had said four days ago. They asked for more questioning, more documents and more money for states to secure their election infrastructure. Democrats want to continue the money through 2019, but Republicans have said new spending isn't needed.
Buttressing this offensive, Senate Foreign Relations Committee members Bob Menendez (D) and Lindsey Graham (R) announced today that new comprehensive legislation they are preparing to strengthen CAATSA includes discussion of "sanctions on Russian sovereign debt", and increased sanctions on the Russian energy and financial sectors. Putin denied meddling in the election.
"In my opinion, there is no doubt that they intervened and will intervene (in elections) in the future", said Rubio.
The U.S. intelligence community concluded, with a subsequent endorsement from the Senate intelligence committee, that Russia's active measures in 2016 were meant to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Trump get elected.
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