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Trump administration announces it's sanctioning Russia for 2016 election meddling

Posted at 10:39 AM, Mar 15, 2018

The Trump administration announced Thursday it is enacting new sanctions on Russia for its election meddling, a month-and-a-half after missing a congressionally mandated deadline.

The Associated Press also reports that the administration has accused Russia of an ongoing, deliberate attempt to penetrate the US energy grid.

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. Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, a financial backer to the Internet Research Agency with deep ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is also included.

Known as "Putin's chef," Prigozhin was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year for his involvement with the Russian troll farm.

In total, the administration applied new sanctions on five entities and 19 individuals on Thursday, including Russians who posed as Americans and posted content online as part of the IRA's attempts to sow discord ahead of the presidential contest.

The sanctions were applied through executive power as well as through the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which Congress initially passed this summer hoping to pressure Trump into punishing Russia for its election interference.

Trump signed the bill reluctantly in August, claiming it impinged upon his executive powers and could dampen his attempts to improve ties with Moscow.

The measure imposed an October deadline on the administration to produce lists of individuals and entities that could be subject to potential sanctions, and a January deadline to impose them. The law required the administration to identify entities that conduct significant business with the Russian defense and intelligence sectors.

The administration missed both by several weeks, claiming necessary work was underway at the State and Treasury Departments to complete the lists.

The delay was seen as sign of Trump's unwillingness to punish Russia for its meddling, which he has downplayed in the past. Members of Congress expressed frustration that their law, which passed almost unanimously, wasn't being enacted.

On Thursday, administration officials insisted the new measures weren't the end of their efforts to punish Russia.

"By no means will this constitute the end to our ongoing campaign to instruct Mr. Putin to change his behavior," a senior administration official told reporters.

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