Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) are urging Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to take action against the 12 Russian military intelligence officers recently indicted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for their involvement in cyber operations to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
In a bipartisan letter, Senators Toomey and Van Hollen specifically call on Treasury to use a 2017 sanctions law to punish those who engage in malicious cyber activity against the U.S. or attempt to meddle in our elections. The letter details an example from earlier this year when Treasury exercised this authority against another group of indicted Russian actors for similar nefarious activities.
"Vladimir Putin and those acting at his direction meddled in our 2016 presidential election," said Senator Toomey. "Accordingly, the Treasury should again exercise the tools it has at its disposal and penalize those identified as carrying out this attack on our country. Putin's attempts to undermine our elections should be continuously met with swift and strong repercussions by Congress and the White House."
"There is no question that Russia attacked our elections in 2016 - and the Justice Department has identified at least 12 Russian military intelligence officers who are behind those attacks. The Administration has the ability to sanction them today, and the precedent to support that action," said Senator Van Hollen. "As Congress considers additional legislation to deter Russia from attacking future elections, I urge Secretary Mnuchin to use the tools he already has to hold the Kremlin accountable."
Read Senators Toomey and Van Hollen's letter here or below.
July 23, 2018
Dear Mr. Secretary:
We write to urge the Treasury Department to swiftly impose sanctions on the 12 Russian military intelligence officers recently indicted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for their involvement in cyber operations to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
On July 13, 2018, the DOJ indicted officers in the Russian military intelligence agency known as the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU). The charges relate to their role in hacking the computers of Americans involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, stealing their information, and distributing it online with the intent to meddle in the election. As previously demonstrated by your office, the Treasury Department has the legal authority necessary to impose sanctions on individuals who engage in cyber activities intended to interfere in America's elections.
On March 15, 2018, for example, the Treasury Department utilized two separate authorities to sanction Russians involved in nefarious cyber-related activities. The first, Executive Order (E.O.) 13694-entitled "Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities"-targets foreigners who conduct cyber activities that threaten our national security and compromise American computer networks. The Treasury Department invoked this E.O. to sanction 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups that the DOJ indicted in February 2018 for interfering in the 2016 elections.
The second, Section 224 of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), requires sanctions to be imposed on whomever the President determines "knowingly engages in significant activities undermining cybersecurity against any person, including a democratic institution, or government on behalf of the Government of the Russian Federation." We are encouraged that the Treasury Department, in its March 15, 2018 sanctions' announcement, utilized this section of CAATSA to sanction Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), the GRU, and six GRU officials.
The authorities provided by E.O 13694 and CAATSA are broad and enable the Treasury Department to apply sanctions on any foreigners linked to nefarious cyber activities designed to harm our electoral systems. Certainly, the 12 indicted GRU officials meet this definition. It is critical that the United States employ a comprehensive approach to confront and counter Russia's malign behavior towards the United States, especially in order to defend the integrity of our elections. We therefore urge you to sanction the 12 GRU officials recently indicted by the DOJ as soon as possible.
We thank you for considering our concerns. We look forward to working with the Administration to forcefully counter Russian aggression.