Cyberwarfare / Nation-State Attacks , Fraud Management & Cybercrime , Fraud Risk Management

Senators Seek Sanctions for Election Interference

Democrats Ask Treasury Secretary to Impose Sanctions on Any Nation Interfering
Senators Seek Sanctions for Election Interference
Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer (left) and Ron Wyden are urging sanctions against Russia.

A group of Democratic senators, including Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, is urging the Trump administration to impose sanctions on Russia and other “governmental actors” that are waging efforts to interfere with the November election.

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In a letter sent to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Thursday, Schumer and nine other Senate Democrats cite findings by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that Russia, along with China and Iran, are planning to interfere in the upcoming election and are spreading disinformation to support their agendas (see: US Intelligence Adds More Details on Election Interference).

"We thus urge you to draw upon the conclusions of the intelligence community to identify and target for sanctions all those determined to be responsible for ongoing election interference, including any actors within the government of the Russian Federation, any Russian actors determined to be directly responsible, and those acting on their behalf or providing material or financial support for their efforts," the letter states.

The letter comes the same week that Facebook and Twitter removed several accounts from their social media platforms created by the Internet Research Agency - the Russian group that waged a disinformation campaign in 2016 - that were spreading disinformation and fake stories designed to interfere with the election (see: Russian Election Misinformation Campaign Re-Emerges).

Urging Sanctions

Sen. Ron Wyden, who drafted the letter, also noted that the senators had sent classified information to the Trump administration and Mnuchin through other channels.

In the letter, the senators urge Mnuchin to use his authority under a 2018 presidential executive order that allows the Treasury secretary to impose sanctions if there is foreign interference during a U.S. election.

As of Friday, the Treasury Department had not responded to the letter, according to The Hill.

Evidence of Interference

In August, the Senate Intelligence Committee released its fifth and final report on Russian interference during the 2016 election, which also described threats to the 2020 election (see: Final Report: More 2016 Russian Election Hacking Details).

Also in August, Christopher Krebs, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency, told Information Security Media Group that his agency has been ramping up its efforts to offer local and state government election officials technical support, training and cyber hygiene exercises needed to ensure a more secure election in November. Krebs noted that Russia, China and Iran are all seeking to interfere in this year's election (see: Election Security: A Progress Report From CISA's Krebs).

Republican Bill

Last year, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., reintroduced the DETER ACT, which is designed to warn foreign actors not to interfere with the U.S. electoral process.

"This legislation sends a clear and powerful message to Russia and any other foreign actors seeking to disrupt our elections: If you attack American candidates, campaigns or voting infrastructure, you will face swift and severe consequences," Rubio said in a statement.

The DETER Act is still pending in a Senate committee.

About the Author

Chinmay Rautmare

Chinmay Rautmare

Senior Correspondent

Rautmare is senior correspondent on Information Security Media Group's Global News Desk. He previously worked with Reuters News, as a correspondent for the North America Headline News operations and reported on companies in the technology, media and telecom sectors. Before Reuters he put in a stint in broadcast journalism with a business channel, where he helped produced multimedia content and daily market shows. Rautmare is a keen follower of geo-political news and defense technology in his free time.

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