Sen. Marco Rubio pushes new bipartisan Russia sanctions bill

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen have co-introduced bipartisan legislation that would provide more power to Congress instead of the president for the purpose of sanctioning Russia over election interference.

The bill is a product of conclusions by numerous U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia tried to meddle in the 2016 presidential election. According to a 2017 report by the Director of National Intelligence, the Russian government “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary [Hillary] Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”

“We have to make very clear through a deterrence capability that if you do this to us, and we prove it, this is what’s going to happen to you,” Rubio told Fox News.

“People need to know what the costs and the benefits are, and hopefully the costs outweigh the benefits and they won’t do it,” Rubio added.

Rubio’s relationship with Russian meddling dates back to the 2016 campaign, after he ditched his presidential bid for a Senate reelection bid following an embarrassing loss to then-candidate Donald Trump in the Florida Republican primary.

“In July 2016, shortly after I announced I’d seek reelection to the U.S. Senate, former members of my presidential campaign team who had access to the internal information of my presidential campaign were targeted by IP addresses with an unknown location within Russia,” Rubio previously said at a Senate hearing. “That effort was unsuccessful. I do think it’s appropriate to divulge this to the committee, since a lot of this has taken a partisan tone.”

Commenting on Rubio’s move to the Miami Herald, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, says the Florida senator is remaining “true to his values and the values of our Republican Party. It’s just now that instead of the Republican Party, it’s the Trump Party. But Marco is a true-blue Republican in the old-fashioned sense of the phrase. Who would think that being wary, suspicious of anti-Russian strong-arm tactics would be deemed as outliers?”

Fellow elected officials in Florida, such as Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Naples, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, have continued to disparage Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling. Rooney even went as far as to call for a “purge” of the FBI and the Justice Department following Mueller’s removal of lawyers from his investigation who sent anti-Trump text messages.

The president, doubling down against any and all criticism per usual, has called consistently called the investigation a “witch hunt.”
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