U.S. Senate Democratic leaders have urged the administration of President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on Russia after U.S. intelligence officials briefed members of Congress that Russia was again trying to interfere in a national election.
Senators Chuck Schumer (New York), Bob Menendez (New Jersey), and Sherrod Brown (Ohio) wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stipulating that the administration "immediately and forcefully" sanction the Russian government and any individuals involved in influencing this year's presidential election.
Their letter comes days after accounts surfaced of a closed-door briefing intelligence officials had given to lawmakers in the House of Representatives.
During the briefing, the lawmakers were told that Russia and other countries were threatening the integrity of the November election.
It focused on efforts Russia might be taking to aid Trump's reelection. Democratic candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont) has said he was told that Russia was seeking to bolster his chances as well.
A Russian presidential envoy denied the allegation in an interview with the Kommersant daily.
"We strictly and meticulously observe the principle of noninterference in the domestic affairs of the United States, sealed back on November 16, 1933, when Soviet Russia and the United States restored their diplomatic relations," said Andrei Krutskikh, special presidential envoy for international cooperation on information security.
He added: "The [Russian] president has repeatedly stressed that Russia had never interfered and was not going to interfere into U.S. internal affairs, including electoral processes."
Separately, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) official said Russia wanted to watch Americans "tear ourselves apart."
David Porter, an assistant section chief with the FBI's Foreign Influence Task Force, spoke at an election security conference in Washington on February 24 where he accused Moscow of spreading disinformation and sowing doubt in the integrity of U.S. elections.
He said Russia was engaged in "information confrontation," whereby fact and fiction is blurred.
"The primary objective is not to create a particular version of the truth but rather to cloud the truth and erode our ability to find it, creating a sentiment that no narrative or news source can be trusted at all," Porter said.