A bill by Senators Marco Rubio and Chris Van Hollen imposes sanctions on the Russian government if the director of National Intelligence determines that the Russians interfere in future elections in the United States. Ron Borresen Tampa Bay Times

WASHINGTON (Conspiracy Talk News) – Federal Senators Marco Rubio and Chris Van Hollen have a message for Moscow: Any interference in future elections in the United States will be met with penalties.

The Republican for Florida, who ran for president back in 2016, and the Democrat for Maryland, will present on Tuesday a bill that explicitly establishes penalties for the Russian government – and other countries – if they interfere in federal elections, and order the Director of National Intelligence to issue a report on potential interference in elections within 30 days of any federal election.

Rubio and Van Hollen’s bill comes at a time when President Donald Trump has called a “witch hunt” led by the Democrats of Congressional investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and creates doubts on the investigation of special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who has already indicted two former Trump campaign officials, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

“For 11 months they have projected this false cloud over this government, and that has affected our government,” Trump said. “

It is a “democratic deception that they have used as an excuse to lose the elections.”

But at a time when some Republicans have joined Trump in questioning Mueller’s motives, Mr. Rubio has expressed confidence in the special prosecutor’s investigation and continues to claim that Russian interference is a threat to future elections in the United States. 

A report by the director of National Intelligence of 2017 determined that Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government “aspired to improve whenever possible the opportunities of [then] President-elect Trump by discrediting Secretary [Hillary] Clinton and contrasting her unfavourably. “

Rubio and Van Hollen bill, called the DETER Act, is the first law initiative since the 2016 presidential election that establishes specific penalties against the Moscow government and other countries that interfere in political campaigns in the United States.

“We can not be a country where the intelligence agencies of other countries try to influence our political process and there are no consequences,” Rubio said in a statement. “This bill will help ensure the integrity of our electoral process by using key national security tools to deter foreign powers from interfering with our elections.”

If approved, the bill establishes specific penalties against Russia that must be implemented within 10 days after the National Intelligence Director determines there was interference.

The penalties include “sanctions against the main sectors of the Russian economy, such as finance, energy, defence and metals and mining” and sanctions against all high-level political figures and Russian oligarchs identified in the sanctions law of that country approved in the 2017 above the initial objections of Trump.

It also requires the White House to work with the European Union to get the support of its countries to impose additional sanctions, so that any measure taken by the United States has a greater impact.

“Protecting the integrity of our elections is an issue that has nothing to do with the parties,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “

And in moments that are less than a year before the legislative elections of 2018, we do not have time to lose. The DETER Law sends an unequivocal message to Russia and to any other country that tries to follow its example: if they attack us, the consequences will be severe. “

The bill describes specific measures of foreign governments that are considered electoral interference. Foreign governments are prohibited from buying advertising to influence elections, using social and traditional media to propagate “significant amounts” of false information, illegally penetrating campaign infrastructure, such as voter registration databases and campaign email accounts, and blocking access to electoral infrastructure, such as digital pages that offer information about polling places.

If the bill is approved, the White House must also submit to Congress a plan to avoid electoral interference in the United States by China, Iran and North Korea, three countries identified by the director of National Intelligence as a source of threats potential of cyber attacks in future elections in the United States.

“We know that Russia manipulated social media channels and penetrated political campaign committees and local electoral boards to undermine our democratic process in 2016,” says a press release from Rubio and Van Hollen. 

“We can expect that threat to increase in the future and we have to do everything possible to avoid these attacks. The DETER Act uses key national security tools to dissuade hostile foreign powers from interfering with our elections by ensuring they know in advance that the cost outweighs the benefits. “

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