Ben Cardin to introduce bill on Russia

Cardin: 'Whether you attack us by a MiG or mouse, it's an attack and it requires a response.'

Sen. Ben Cardin, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will unveil legislation Thursday that he said will respond to Russia's alleged cyber attacks during the presidential election as well as Moscow's involvement in Syria and Ukraine.

The legislation is part of a broader, bipartisan push on Capitol Hill to offer some answer to Moscow -- possibly before President Barack Obama's term ends in January. President-elect Donald Trump extended a more conciliatory tone to Russian President Vladimir Putin throughout the campaign.

Cardin did not discuss specifics of his proposal, which he said he would lay out in a speech Thursday. Asked if the bill would call for sanctions on Russia, Cardin said only that the bill would be "comprehensive" and that it would address the country's 2014 annexation of Crimea and its airstrikes in Syria.

"Whether you attack us by a MiG or mouse, it's an attack and it requires a response," the Maryland Democrat told reporters Wednesday.

Lawmakers in both parties have sounded alarms about Trump's rhetoric with Russia, which has broken with Republican orthodoxy. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has openly sparred with Trump, called Wednesday for hearings into whether the Russian government was involved in cyber-hacks to disrupt the U.S. elections.

"He wants to reset with Russia. Maybe he can do it," Graham said. "But here’s my view about Russia: They're a bad actor in the world and they need to be reined in."

Cardin drew the ire of Russian leaders by shepherding legislation through Congress in 2012 that allows Washington to impose sanctions against human rights abusers from Russia. He has since sought to expand those restrictions to countries other than Russia.

Both bills were named for named for lawyer and auditor Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian jail in 2009 seven years ago today.

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