WASHINGTON • Two prominent Republican senators have said that the United States must move promptly to prepare new sanctions against Russia to discourage interference in upcoming elections.
Senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday that additional sanctions needed to be teed up before President Donald Trump holds a second meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the US leader came under heavy criticism for failing to confront Mr Putin about interference in the 2016 election at a summit on July 16.
"You need to work with Congress to come up with new sanctions because Putin's not getting the message," Mr Graham said on CBS' Face The Nation programme. "We need new sanctions, heavy-handed sanctions, hanging over his head, and then meet with him."
Undaunted by the backlash in his own party to his first meeting, Mr Trump has invited Mr Putin to a White House meeting some time this autumn. Congressional elections will take place in November.
Representative Trey Gowdy, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, questioned the wisdom of Mr Putin being ushered into the White House. Talking to Mr Putin about matters such as the civil war in Syria, he said, "is very different from issuing an invitation".
"Those should be reserved for, I think, our allies like Great Britain and Canada and Australia and those who are with us day in and day out."
Mr Gowdy made his remarks during an interview on television's Fox News Sunday.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio wants a vote on a Bill called Deter that would impose new sanctions if US intelligence officials determine that Russia had meddled in US elections. Mr Rubio co-authored the legislation with Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, a bipartisan effort revived by the fallout of last week's summit.
"What I think is indisputable is that they did interfere and they will do so in the future," Mr Rubio said on CNN's State Of The Union.
Last Thursday, he and Mr Van Hollen, noting the "urgency of the challenge before our nation", wrote to the chairmen of the Senate Banking and Foreign Relations committees pressing them to hold hearings on the legislation before the start of an early August recess.