Congressional push for sanctions against Russia could set up clash with Trump

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an outspoken Trump critic, is the latest lawmaker to join the fray, stating that his goal in a series of investigations next year “is to put on President Trump’s desk crippling sanctions against Russia,” he wrote on Twitter. “They need to pay a price.”

The list of lawmakers who have called for expanded Russia sanctions includes Republicans and Democrats, Trump critics and members who supported the Republican’s White House bid. Their reasons are many, including anger over Moscow’s alleged role in a series of election-related hacks to revulsion at the Kremlin’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad torturing his own people.

But even if Congress censures Russia with its strongest brand of sanctions, there is no guarantee that the Trump administration will actually implement them.

“It’s certainly possible Trump might not implement them, but there is overwhelming bipartisan consensus in Congress that sanctions have worked on Russia for other issues, and will work again in the future,” said a Senate Democratic aide who was not authorized to speak publicly. “We’re hopeful the Trump team and the president-elect himself will come to understand this.”