15:45 GMT10 April 2021
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    Washington introduced several rounds of sanctions against the Russian state, companies and individuals over Moscow’s alleged ‘meddling’ in the 2016 election, but has so far failed to provide any substantive evidence regarding the claims.

    The Trump administration has been extremely tough on Russia over its alleged attempts to interfere in the US electoral process, to the point of running out of people to target through sanctions, Chad Wolf, acting secretary of Homeland Security, has said.

    “What I’ve seen from the intelligence is they obviously tried to interfere with our 2016 election, and they continue to do that over the last four years,” Wolf said, speaking to Axios.

    “We’ve called [Russia] out numerous times, from the department all the way through the administration into the White House. We continue to sanction any number of individuals from Russia. I think we’ve actually run out of individuals to sanction,” the official added.

    Suggesting that the Trump administration has successfully deterred Russia from its alleged meddling, Wolf said the Department of Homeland Security was more concerned about plans by states to allow for mass mail-in voting in November.

    “What I think we have an ongoing concern about is states that are doing this mass mail ballot voting, to any individual in that state whether they’re alive, whether they’re dead, whether living at that address or not,” Wolf suggested. “Folks that need to vote by absentee ballot – absolutely do that. There’s a process, you have to go in, you have to identify who you are, you have to tell them why you need an absentee ballot. That is very different than we see mass mail-in balloting,” he added.

    Slew of Sanctions

    The United States introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia for its alleged meddling in the 2016 election. The Obama administration began the process in December 2016 by imposing personal sanctions on four Russian military intelligence officials, and expelling 35 Russian diplomats for alleged spying.

    President Trump signed another package of sanctions, known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, in mid-2017, with the restrictions including secondary sanctions against companies working in the Russian energy sector, and blocking the repeal of earlier imposed sanctions without congressional approval.

    In July 2017, Russia hit back against the US restrictions, ordering 755 diplomatic staff from US diplomatic missions in Russia to pack up their bags and leave the country to bring staff levels to 455 persons, the same number Russia has in the US. The US called the decision a “regrettable and uncalled for act.”

    US officials and the intelligence community have failed to provide any substantive evidence to the public about alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 race. In 2019, after three years of claims by Democratic leaders that the Kremlin had colluded with President Trump in 2016 to defeat Hillary Clinton, special counsel investigator Robert Mueller concluded that there was no evidence to that effect. Instead, Mueller pointed to alleged Russian interference in the form of troll campaigns online aimed at disparaging Clinton and supporting Trump.

    Related:

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    Trump Has Given ‘Blessing’ to Russian Meddling in 2020 Election, Former US Envoy to UN Rice Claims
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