Missouri's Senator McCaskill leads fiery exchange about Russian sanctions with Treasury secretary

Published: Feb. 14, 2018 at 1:20 PM CST
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Missouri U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill led a tense conversation with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin over imposing sanctions on Russia.

Secretary Mnuchin told the Senate Finance Committee President Trump did not directly ask him to impose sanctions because he already informed the Trump Administration his plans for further action. That statement then led to this exchange between him and the senior senator from Missouri.

"I want to know - I've never heard the president the United States say a bad word about Russia," said Sen. McCaskill.

"Well that's not the case," said Secretary Mnuchin.

"Well, I need to see the quotes, because I've never seen it. He always avoids --," said Sen. McCaskill. "He's not answering the question. I want to know if the president asked him."

"Again, what I'm happy to tell you is that I have told the president, I updated him on the report," said Secretary Mnuchin. "I told him we would be doing sanctions against Russia and he was pleased to hear that."

"OK. Has. Has he ever - have you recommend it to him that he publicly explain to the American people that he wants sanctions imposed on Russia?," said Sen. McCaskill.

"I have not made that recommendation to him because I've publicly - I've publicly said that but I'm happy to pass on your message to him," said Secretary Mnuchin.

"Do you think that the people of this country and frankly the government of Russia - it would be helpful if they heard from the president the United States that he believes sanctions are appropriate when a country tries to break the backbone of democracies all over the world," said Sen. McCaskill.

"Again the president has delegated to me the responsibility for sanctions," said Secretary Mnuchin. "I represent the administration and I've been very clear. There will be sanctions on Russia. I don't think I can be more clear on that. And that work is underway as a result of the report."

Secretary Mnuchin said he intends to brief the Senate Banking Committe on the classified report on Russia sanctions delivered to Congress at the end of January.