Treasury Department hits Russian Federation with sanctions over 2016 election meddling

Saul Bowman
March 16, 2018

In enacting the sanctions, the administration is finally meeting a congressional mandate to impose measures punishing Moscow for its cyber intrusion. The reports mark the first publicly known time that Mueller has demanded documents related to President Donald Trump's businesses.

"We continue to be very focused ... on pressuring Russian Federation for its continued efforts to destabilize Ukraine, occupy Crimea, meddle in elections, as well as for its endemic corruption and human rights abuses", they added.

Trump's choice to lead the National Security Agency, the lead US electronic spy agency, also expressed concern about Russia's cyber activity during his confirmation hearing at the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign using hacking and propaganda, an effort that eventually included attempting to tilt the race in President Donald Trump's favor.

The new sanctions will target prominent Russian officials and entities believed to be behind the recent attack, as well as past efforts to foment unrest in the United States and influence the 2016 election.

The sanctions also affect the Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB, and six of its employees for cyberattacks more broadly, including those targeting Russian journalists, opposition figures, foreign politicians and US officials. The officials said the Russians deliberately chose US energy industry targets, obtaining access to computer systems and then conducting "network reconnaissance" of industrial control systems that run American factories and the electricity grid.

The US Treasury Department issued tough sanctions on Thursday against Russian entities and individuals for what it said were "ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia".

US national security officials said the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and intelligence agencies determined Russian intelligence and others were behind a broad range of cyberattacks starting a year ago.

Britain, the United States, Germany and France jointly called on Russia on Thursday to explain a military-grade nerve toxin attack on Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent in England.

Trump said Thursday "it looks like" Russian Federation was behind that attack.

"It certainly looks like the Russians were behind it", Trump said, after welcoming Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar to the White House. "Something that should never, ever happen, and we're taking it very seriously".

The sanctions not only freeze the accounts and holdings of the group, but also blocks United States citizens from doing any business with them.

The penalties for the first time use new powers Congress passed a year ago to punish Moscow for election meddling.

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 US treasury secretary said there would be additional sanctions to hold Russian "officials and oligarchs accountable for their destabilising activities".

The president has also decried more damaging allegations that his campaign colluded with the Kremlin - the subject of Mueller's ongoing investigation that has seen several key aides indicted or make plea deals. Last month, the Trump Administration attributed the attack to Russian Federation, saying it caused billions of dollars in damage in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Mr. Royce was a major force behind the congressional push previous year to sanction Russian Federation.

The White House officially blamed Russian Federation for deploying the NotPetya ransomware on February 15. Officials did not confirm exactly when the incursions occurred, but said they were removed immediately upon discovery.

"Except that now, I will stop going to McDonald's".

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