MORE SANCTIONS in plans for Russia, Mnuchin says.
New U.S. sanctions will follow the publication of a list of Russian billionaires and top Russian officials, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Tuesday.
Mnuchin said the “oligarchs list” wasn’t delayed by President Donald Trump’s administration, after it was published late Monday, just as a congressionally mandated deadline was set to expire. While Treasury emphasized that people on the list are not necessarily subject to U.S. sanctions, the report has been denounced by the Russian government, which says it will further hurt relations with the U.S.
Some Democrats in Congress said they were upset that the report was not immediately accompanied by fresh U.S. sanctions to punish Russia for its alleged meddling in the 2016 election. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, accused Mnuchin of “slow-walking” the report. Others said the administration had let Russian President Vladimir Putin off the hook.
“We will take the basis of that report and look at, as we do in the normal course, where it’s appropriate to put sanctions. This should in no way be interpreted as we’re not putting sanctions on any of the people in that report,” Mnuchin said. “I don’t think in any way we are slow-walking the report delivered last night, and we look forward to discussing [it] with you in a classified setting.”
The 96 tycoons named in the U.S. list match the list of billionaires published by the Russian edition of Forbes magazine last year. A Treasury spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the unclassified portion of the report that was submitted to Congress was derived from publicly available sources including the Forbes list.
Along with 114 Russian government officials and state-company chiefs, the names were compiled based on “objective criteria drawn from publicly available sources,” Treasury said in the report.
An accompanying report on the effect on Russia’s sovereign debt from possible U.S. sanctions was classified, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said in a statement Tuesday. Congress had requested an unclassified version of the report.
The idea of the seven-page unclassified document, as envisioned by Congress, was to name and shame those believed to be benefiting from Putin’s tenure as the U.S. works to isolate his government diplomatically and economically. Russia hawks in Congress had pushed the administration to include certain names, while Russian businessmen hired lobbyists to keep them off.
The list includes people already subject to sanctions because of their close ties to Putin, such as Arkady Rotenberg, as well as those seen as distant from the Kremlin, such as banker Oleg Tinkov and grocery tycoon Sergey Galitsky.
Joking that it was “offensive” that he wasn’t included, Putin said at a campaign event that Russia will “refrain for the moment” from implementing serious retaliatory measures it has prepared.
“In effect, all 146 million of us have been put on some list,” he said, calling it “indisputably an unfriendly act.”
Meanwhile, officials said Tuesday that the Trump administration let a top Russian spy official visit the U.S. last week for meetings with U.S. intelligence officials even though there are sanctions against him that typically prohibit such visits.
The Russian ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, said on Russian state TV that Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, met with his U.S. counterparts about the fight against terrorism.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a frequent critic of Trump’s treatment of Putin and his government, said the timing of the trip was suspicious.
“This is a serious national security issue,” Schumer told reporters. “Russia hacked our elections. We sanctioned the head of their foreign intelligence, and then the Trump administration invites him to waltz through our front door.
“This is an extreme dereliction of duty by President Trump, who seems more intent on undermining the rule of law in this country than standing up to Putin.”
Schumer said he wants to know whether sanctions were discussed, whether Naryshkin also met with White House or national security officials and whether other sanctioned Russian officials were along on the trip. Naryshkin was sanctioned in 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Information for this article was contributed by Vladimir Isachenkov and Josh Lederman of The Associated Press.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin testifies Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee.