US senators push for more sanctions on Russia over election hack

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Senator John McCain (center) speaks as Senators Charles Schumer (left) and Robert Menendez listen during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (File photo)

Three US senators plan to introduce new legislation that calls for "comprehensive" sanctions on Russia over its alleged attempts to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

Republican Senator John McCain said Monday he would join Democratic Senators Ben Cardin and Robert Menendez in introducing the legislation.

The senators did not say what "comprehensive" meant, but they said the legislation would go beyond the sanctions that have already been imposed on Moscow.

Several Democratic members of Congress have urged for the formation of an independent panel to investigate Russia’s alleged hacking of Democratic organizations and officials during the recent presidential contest between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

On Friday, US intelligence agencies published a report on Russia’s alleged cyber attacks to influence the US election. Russia has denied the allegations.

The hacked emails, which were reportedly provided to WikiLeaks by individuals working for the Russian government, were a regular source of embarrassment to Clinton during the presidential race and may have contributed to her defeat.  

On Saturday, Trump called for closer ties between the United States and Russia despite the hacking allegations, saying that only “stupid” people or “fools” would think close ties were unwise.

President-elect Donald Trump (L) and French businessman Bernard Arnault emerge from the elevators to speak to reporters at Trump Tower, January 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by AFP)

Trump has consistently dismissed the intelligence agencies’ conclusion as politically motivated, but he appeared to accept Russian involvement in the election after receiving an intelligence briefing on Friday.

Last month, outgoing President Barack Obama ordered a series of economic sanctions against Russia, as well as the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats over the cyber attacks.

Washington and its allies had already levied broad economic sanctions against Russia and blacklisted dozens of its citizens after Moscow’s alleged involvement in the Ukraine conflict.

Ties between the US and Russia further deteriorated when Moscow in 2015 launched an air offensive against Daesh terrorists in Syria, many of whom were initially trained by the CIA to fight against the Syrian government.

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