Commentary: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) a member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, voted for bipartisan legislation that codifies and expands sanctions against the government of Russia in response to its cyber-attacks and interference in elections; its violations of the territorial integrity of Ukraine; and its continuing aggression in Syria. The legislation, the Countering Russian Aggression and Cyberattacks Act of 2017, passed the Senate overwhelmingly by a vote of 97 to 2.
“This bipartisan vote to expand sanctions against Russia sends a strong message that there will be real consequences for undermining our democratic process,” said Senator Heinrich. “President Trump’s reluctance to take this issue seriously is deeply troubling and is a major reason why I am working on the Senate Intelligence Committee to get to the bottom of Russia’s interference in our election.”
Senator Heinrich has been at the forefront of the Russia investigation. Earlier this week he questioned Defense Secretary James Mattis about Russian threats in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. Secretary Matitis stated there should absolutely be consequences for Russian interference in the 2016 election after Heinrich pressed him on prioritizing responding to the Russian's use of hostile, asymmetrical tools to interfere in our elections.
Senator Heinrich also questioned former FBI Director James Comey, who testified in a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence open hearing last week and spoke to the magnitude of Russian interference, stating, "The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. And it was an active-measures campaign driven from the top of that government."
However, when Senator Heinrich asked Comey during the hearing whether President Trump had ever appeared concerned about Russian interference or how to stop it in the future, Comey said, “No.”
A copy of Countering Russian Aggression and Cyberattacks Act of 2017 is available here.