Mueller forces Trump to finally impose sanctions on Russia


Seven months after Congress required Trump to impose sanctions on Russia for interfering in the 2016 election, he's finally doing it.

Trump may have been dragged, kicking and screaming, but the administration finally announced sanctions against Russia for its cyberattacks against the U.S. in 2016.

What finally forced Trump's hand? Special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation — the same one Trump has denounced as a "witch hunt."

"The new punishments include sanctions on the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm that produced divisive political posts on American social media platforms during the 2016 presidential election," CNN reports. "Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, a financial backer to the Internet Research Agency with deep ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is also included."

The new sanctions would bar named individuals from traveling to the United States and freeze whatever assets they have in the country.

Until now, Trump has been almost comically reluctant to punish Russia for its aggressive attack on American elections.

Just this week, 140 House Democrats wrote to Trump and urged him to impose sanctions on Russia. "Your actions over the last year have shown that you will constantly excuse President [Vladimir] Putin and deny his well established assistance to your campaign in 2016," the letter stated.

Congress approved those sanctions last summer, with more than 500 members of the House and Senate supporting the measure. Trump angrily agreed to sign the sanctions bill, lashing out at Congress in the process.

And the White House did nothing for seven months.

In January, the State Department actually claimed that no sanctions were needed because Russia had been effectively deterred.

That whole time, Trump repeated his "no collusion" mantra as Mueller widened his investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives in 2016.

The sanctions law passed by Congress required the administration to identify offending entities. Turns out the administration decided to follow Mueller's lead. Last month, Mueller's office announced indictments against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups.

Those charges allege that Russians working for the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency created false American personas and stole identities of Americans as part of an effort that was aimed at supporting Trump's campaign and "disparaging Hillary Clinton."

The targets of the sanctions announced Thursday mirror the same targets named in Mueller's indictment.

Meanwhile, Russia's military intelligence service was “directly involved” in attacking the 2016 election, the Treasury Department announced. And, "In announcing the measures, the administration also disclosed a Russian attempt to penetrate the US energy grid."

Through it all, though, Trump still refuses to personally and publicly denounce Putin.