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US senators introduce Russia sanctions ‘bill from hell’

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Republican and Democratic U.S. senators introduced legislation on Thursday to impose stiff new sanctions on Russia and combat cyber crime, the latest effort by lawmakers to punish Moscow over interference in U.S. elections and its activities in Syria and Ukraine.

The bill includes restrictions on new Russian sovereign debt transactions, energy and oil projects and Russian uranium imports, and new sanctions on Russian political figures and oligarchs.

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It also expresses strong support for NATO and would require that two-thirds of the Senate to vote in favor of any effort to leave the alliance.

Russian markets reacted quickly to the measure, with the rouble slumping toward two-week lows.

“The current sanctions regime has failed to deter Russia from meddling in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the measure’s lead sponsors. Earlier this week, Graham had told reporters he planned a “sanctions bill from hell” to punish Russia.

Congress passed a Russia sanctions bill last summer but some lawmakers chafed at what they saw as President Donald Trump’s reluctance to implement it; he signed it only after Congress passed it with huge majorities.

Several provisions of the measure introduced on Thursday sought to toughen that law.

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Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said the administration had not fully complied with those sanctions.

“This bill is the next step in tightening the screws on the Kremlin and will bring to bear the full condemnation of the United States Congress so that Putin finally understands that the U.S. will not tolerate his behavior any longer,” Menendez said.

Republicans and Democrats united last month in repudiating Trump’s failure to publicly condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin for interfering in the 2016 U.S. elections. Still, Congress failed to pass anything before lawmakers left Washington for their weeks-long summer recess.

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The latest measure’s prospects were not immediately clear.

It would have to pass both the Senate and House of Representatives and be signed by Trump to become law.

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Aides to the Senate’s Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, referred questions about the bill to the Senate Banking Committee. A committee spokeswoman said she had no details on what measures the panel might consider.

McConnell said last month Senate committees should hold hearings on legislation to stop Russia from future election meddling.

Both the Banking and Foreign Relations Committees have since scheduled hearings relating to Russia.

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Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Doina Chiacu; additional reporting by Rick Cowan; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Susan Thomas and David Gregorio


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‘The cost of acquitting Donald Trump just went up’ for the Republicans: MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid

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MSNBC host Joy Ann Reid explained during the post-hearing wrap-up that things aren't looking good for Republican senators up for reelection in 2020.

In the wake of EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony, things are getting more difficult for Republicans faced with a vote on impeachment.

"Even if [the numbers] don't move, the problem is going to be a lot of these people have to run for re-election, letting the president off the hook when it's pretty clear what happened," Reid said. "This is pretty simple, and if I'm Cory Gardener (R-CO), I'm not feeling great."

Brian Williams noted that Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) is one of the many Republicans "who's leaving town on a fast horse." If anyone could be pealed off by Democrats, Williams thinks it is Hurd.

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Indicted Giuliani associate helped Nunes arrange meetings during his overseas trips to discredit the Russia investigation

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On Thursday, The Daily Beast reported that Lev Parnas, the Rudy Giuliani associate currently under federal indictment for campaign finance violations, helped Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) arrange meetings in Europe as part of his efforts to discredit the investigation of Russian contacts within President Donald Trump's campaign.

According to congressional records, Nunes, in his capacity as then-House Intelligence Chairman, visited Europe from November 30 to December 3, of last year, during which he was accompanied by three staffers — Derek Harvey, Scott Glabe, and George Pappas — at a taxpayer expense of over $63,000.

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Rick Wilson mocks GOP as impeachment witnesses ‘obliterate’ their talking points: ‘Dumber than a sack of hair’

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On Wednesday, as the House wrapped up another day of bombshell impeachment testimony from multiple foreign service officers, former GOP strategist and Never Trump conservative Rick Wilson mocked President Donald Trump and his Republican allies, pointing out that all of their major talking points to defend the president's conduct in Ukraine have been "obliterated":

1/ Hey committee Republicans! Have you noticed every single line of defense that you've mounted this week for the president has been utterly fucking obliterated?

Is this clear to you yet?

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