Three top Democratic senators have called for multi-agency inspectors general investigations into what they argue is a failure by the Trump administration to fully implement congressionally mandated sanctions against Russia.
Last year Congress voted nearly unanimously to create the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in order to pressure President Trump to clamp down on Russia in response to Kremlin meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
In a May 18 letter to the inspectors general of the State and Treasury Departments as well as the U.S. Intelligence Community, the three senators argue the Trump administration has sent mixed signals, or been inactive in implementing seven mandatory CAATSA provisions, despite evidence of sanctionable activity.
“Several mandatory provisions of the law have not been implemented by the administration, despite strong evidence that actions taken by or on behalf of the Russian government are in violation of the CAATSA sanctions law and applicable executive orders codified by CAATSA,” Sen. Bob Menendez, New Jersey, Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia and Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio wrote on Friday.
Mr. Menendez, Mr. Warner and Mr. Brown are the top Democrats on the Senate’s foreign relations, intelligence, and banking committees, respectively.
CAATSA primarily targets Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors and those who do business with them. The senators also say the Trump White House has not followed through addressing related sanctions and penalties.
“We also remain concerned that the administration has not formally determined whether individuals are conducting significant transactions with the Russian defense and intelligence sectors under Section 231 [part of CAATSA],” they wrote. “Without such determinations, it is impossible to ascertain whether individuals are substantially reducing significant transactions with these entities as outlined in the law.”
The senators also argue the administration did not follow through last month with additional sanctions against Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad despite Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, having announced new sanctions would be forthcoming.
Senior Trump administration officials maintain they are pushing back harder on Russian President Vladimir Putin than the Obama administration, while Democrats say Mr. Trump has shown a reluctance to use the full force of CAATSA.