CongressHot Sheet

Does Russia sponsor terrorism? Sen. Cory Gardner wants to know

Author: Mark Harden - April 20, 2018 - Updated: April 20, 2018

Cory Gardner Jeff SessionsSen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado wants the U.S. State Department to determine whether Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism.

In an op-ed piece in the New York Times Thursday, the Republican says this:

“I plan to introduce legislation that would require the State Department to determine within 90 days whether the Russian Federation meets the criteria to be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism. If the answer is yes, Russia would face restrictions on American foreign assistance, a ban on American defense exports and sales, limits on American sales of certain items that have both civilian and military uses, and other financial and other restrictions.”

Gardner cites Russia’s hostile actions against Georgia and Ukraine, its support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and its “active information warfare against Western democracies, including meddling in the 2016 United States elections.”

Gardner says that, despite sanctions imposed on Russia by the Trump administration and Congress, “President Vladimir Putin only seems more intent on causing grievous harm to international peace and stability.”

The senator, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, acknowledges that designation of Russia as a state sponsor of terror could “further damage American-Russia ties, already at an all-time low.” So his proposed legislation leaves an escape route: The final determination will be left to “the professionals at the State Department.”

A State Department that, as of last month, had yet to spend any of the $120 million it had been allocated since the 2016 election to fight foreign efforts to interfere with elections.

Mark Harden

Mark Harden

Mark Harden is managing editor of Colorado Politics. He previously was news director at the Denver Business Journal; city editor, online news editor, state editor, national editor and popular music critic at The Denver Post; and an editor and reporter at newspapers in the Seattle area and San Francisco.