tv Senate Foreign Relations Committee on U.S.- Russia Relations CSPAN August 26, 2018 4:03pm-6:00pm EDT
at 10estival, saturday a.m. eastern. coverage includes your collins from our set at the washington convention center with jon meacham and his book "the soul of america: the battle for our better angels." pulitzer prize-winning historian doris kearns goodwin with her book "leadership in turbulent times" and fox news host brian kill me and his book "the battle of new orleans: the battle that shaped our destiny." on book tv next saturday at 10 a.m. eastern. >> makes, state and treasury department officials testified before the senate foreign relations committee about the state of u.s.-russia relationships -- relations. they talked about sanctions, and
last month's meeting in helsinki between president trump and russian president vladimir putin . this is just under two hours. sen. corker: foreign relations committee will come to order. we want to thank our witnesses for being here today for the second in a series of hearings on russia. this committee is attempting to get a clearer sense of the administration's overall posture on russia. we thank you both for being here. we have outstanding witnesses today. we would like to understand what was agreed to when the leaders of our two countries sat down in helsinki. whether there were discussions about future arms agreements. today, we have received no real readout, even in a classified setting of this meeting. we would like to understand the administration's assessment of the threat posed by russia to us, to our allies and other
countries and institutions around the world. finally, we need a better understanding of how russian sanctions, despite strong objections from the white house, are being implemented. russia has annexed crimea and occupied parts of georgia, interfered with elections, including our own, violated the inf treaty, used chemical weapons into poison individuals in the united kingdom, and even reportedly hacked u.s. utilities. these offenses are bad enough, they leave us wondering what is next? what does the administration expect they will next do? the past teaches us that even worse things may lay just over the horizon if we fail to push back now, and make clear to president putin that our nation
is united from the very top to the bottom. standing against his destabilizing behavior both in policy and in public posture. it is my hope that today, you will reassure the members of this committee that our executive branch is doing all and its power to convince the russians not to continue testing our resolve. we thank you both for our service to our country, for being here today and look forward to your testimony. with that, i will turn to bob menendez. sen. menendez: i join you in your words and concerns. and for convening this hearing which i hope is a series of hearings toward the russian federation. i hope we can get clarity and pursue oversight and legislation. more than a month after president trump's helsinki meeting with president putin, we remain in the dark about what the two leaders discussed.
we continue to hear more information, accurate or not, from the russian government and from our own. it is not only embarrassing, but i believe this lack of transparency has implications for our national security. i'm not convinced that those who need to know in our own executive branch have a full understanding of what happened. after more than three hours with secretary pompeo, this committee has little more insight and we did before the hearing. since the administration has failed to answer congressional requests or provide information, i am formally requesting the
department to provide all classified and unclassified cable traffic related to the helsinki meeting. i won't spend time today running through russia's ongoing transgressions. i think president trump' cabinet have warned that russia continues to undermine our democracy. russia uses chemical weapons to attack its opponents abroad. it invades its neighbors and illegally annexes territories. today, we learn from microsoft that russian hackers continue their attempts to attack the united states senate and the venerable think tanks and ngos. i've been disappointed by the cause of some on the other side of the aisle, sending mixed signals to the kremlin and its allies only serve to undermine our sanctions regime. i do not to the value of meeting with sanctioned members of the russian duma. they should remain on our sanctions list until crimea is returned to ukraine. i am sanctioned by the russian government. for my authorship of the ukraine freedom support act. i would be happy to meet with the duma when each of the goals of that law are accomplished. until then, they can stay in moscow. i would like to use this hearing to look forward. the administration often points to its record while ignoring the president's damaging rhetoric on russian policy.
with that said, i was pleased that secretary pompeo committed to work with us on new sanctions. today, i would like to hear in detail specific provisions of the defending american security act. i want your views on how these measures can impact the intended targets. the bill recognizes that our efforts to date have been insufficient. it includes tough measures which we recognize have implications for u.s. companies and our allies. do we really believe it is acceptable or in our national interest for u.s. companies or those of our allies to be doing business in russia, particularly supporting the very sector that has aided and abated kremlin's interference? it is ridiculous that president trump would publicly champion the russian business council. second, i want to hear how you would support provisions to
deepen cooperation with europe on russian sanctions implementations. third, i continue to believe that our government is not properly constituted to address the hybrid threat imposed by russia. our bill would establish a fusion center to address how malign influence and calls for the establishment of the sanctions coordinator office within the senate. i look forward to your thoughts on how we can structure our national security institutions to maximize our ability to stop threats. i would like to hear about the efforts to implement the current law. the administration has argued that mandatory new provisions have not been invoked because it is easier to use established executive order authority. i would like to hear a clear reasoning for this and assurances that the clear intent of congress is being met, i'm
interested in sections 225, 226, 227, 228, 233 and 234. i strongly oppose the nba which allowed them to waive sanctions. in response, i inserted a strong reporting requirement demanding the state department be more forthcoming and transparent. on how it is implementing section 231 and i remain concerned that the contraries gutted this important provision so i hope the state can convince me otherwise. finally, i want to end with a note of thanks. i do understand that there are many within our government who are dedicated to a more assertive approach with respect to russia that is clear eyed and well-intentioned. at the risk of making their jobs more difficult, i suggest those individuals fall into that category. thank you for calling the hearing.
and to our witnesses for appearing. sen. corker: thank you for your comments. our first witness is wess mitchell. assistant secretary for the bureau of european and eurasian affairs, u.s. department of state. we thank you for being here and appreciate what you do for our country. our second witness is marshall billingslea. assistant secretary for terror financing, u.s. department of treasury. we thank you for the same. we appreciate the fact that you are sharing your thoughts and viewpoints with us. mr. billingslea, i understand you have returned early from travel to be here. we thank you for that. we originally had assistant secretary chris ford scheduled for this hearing, but we were asked that he be available to testify before the senate banking committee. we have a simultaneous hearing happening. since we had these two outstanding witnesses, we
relented and we allowed chris to go over to the banking committee. that testimony will be taking place in their. he likely will be before us again the future to talk about other issues he is responsible for. again, we thank you. you know the order here. if you can summarize your order in about five minutes. any written material you have with unanimous consent will be entered into the record. with that, if you will begin, we will appreciate it. >> chairman corker, ranking member menendez, thank you for indulging me today. if you will indulge me, i want to start with a piece of welcome news unrelated to this morning's testimony. yesterday, august 20, the u.s. government removed a former nazi camp guard. this process took far longer than we wanted, the removal of this individual can bring some comfort to holocaust survivors and others who suffered at the hands of the inhuman nazi
regime. i will use my prepared comments today to outline and brief form the overarching strategy of the united states towards the russian federation. the foundation for this strategy is provided by three documents as directed an approved by the president. the national security strategy, the national defense strategy, and the russian integrated strategy. the starting point is that america has entered a period of big power competition. in the past, policies have not grasped the scope or our need to succeed in it. the central aim of the this challenge by systematically strengthening the military, economic and political fundament of american power. our policy proceeds from the recognition that to be effective, u.s. diplomacy must be backed by military power that is second to none.
and fully integrated with our allies and estimates of power. to that end we have reduced , years of cuts to the defense budget, requested close to $11 billion for the initiative, and worked with the nato to bring about new defense spending. at the nato summit, we established two new nato commands, new counter hybrid threat response teams, and new multiyear initiatives. in tandem, we have worked to degrade vladimir putin's ability to conduct aggression by imposing costs on the russian state and the oligarchy that sustains it. i'm submitting for the record is administration has taken. these include 217 individuals and entities sanctioned and 60 spies removed from american soil. on average, sanctioned russian firms see their operating
revenue fall by a quarter, their total asset evaluation fall by half. tear forced to fire a third of their employees. following the announcement of sanctions in april, the russian lost about 60% of its economy. the ruble depreciated to its lowest against the dollar in two years. even as we have imposed unprecedented penalties we have , been clear that the door to dialog is open should putin to to take credible steps. towards a constructive path. in syria, we instituted channels to avoid collisions with our two countries. we have maintained an effort to provide the means by which russia can live up to its agreements. in all of these areas, it is up to russia, not america to take the next step. we have placed particular emphasis on bolstering the front lines of europe. in ukraine and georgia we have
lifted acquisition of defensive weapons, from the caucasus to central europe, we are promoting energy diversification and fighting corruption. at competing for hearts and minds. our strategy is animated by the realization that the threat from russia has evolved beyond being simply an external a military -- external or military one. it includes influence operations, orchestrated by the kremlin at the very heart of the western world. these activities are extensively resourced and directed from the highest levels of the russian state. it is important to state clearly what these campaigns are and are not about. what they are not about is a particular attachment to u.s. domestic political causes. they're not about right or left, not about american political philosophy. as the recent facebook purges reveal the russian state has , promoted fringe voices on the
political left and right, including groups who advocate violence, the storming of federal buildings, and the overthrow of u.s. government. political left and right, including groups who advocatep'e american constitution is an experiment that will fail if challenged from the right way from within. he wants to break apart the american republic by systematically inflaming the faultlines within our society. excepting this fact is absolutely essential for developing a long-term response to the problem. the most dangerous thing in the world we can do is politicize the challenge, which in itself would be a gift of putin. as stated by a handbook of the russian armed forces, the goal is to carry out mass psychological campaigns against the population of the state in order to destabilize society and the government and force that state to make decisions in the interest of its opponents. doing so involves an involved all caps of subversive --
-- of the subversive statecraft upgraded for the digital age. the state department takes this threat very seriously. countering it in both covert and overt form is the goal of the eurasian affairs. i work with general's cap ready to combine the combined resources to combat this problem. under eur leadership, all 49 leadership missions are required to develop and coordinate tailored action plans for rebuffing russian influence plans in those countries. within the bureau we recruited , one of the architects of the global engagement center from the staff of a member of this committee, we formed a new position, the senior for russian malign activities or trends to develop cross regional strategies across offices. eur has created a dedicated team that is called out the kremlin on 112. occasions
we are now working with the u.k. to form an international coalition for coordinating efforts. we recognize that congress has an important role to play in providing the told and resources needed to deal effectively with the russian problem set. we are committed to working with all of you to make headway against this problem and align our efforts in support of the president's strategy. i look forward to your questions. sen. corker: thank you. sec. billingslea: first of all, it is great to be back. i got my start in washington sitting back on the bench back there. thank you for the opportunity. i will say that those of us in the treasury department share the views that you and the
ranking member and many of the senate have expressed regarding the significant and continuing national security threat posed to the u.s. by the russian federation. continuing occupation of crimea, current military operations in ukraine, malicious cyber attacks, illicit regiment of restricted u.s. technologies, violation of crucial arms treaties, support to the assad regime's barbarism, the impossible use of the nerve agent in the u.k., and ongoing efforts to interfere in our election process are some of the unacceptable behaviors of the putin regime. countering russian aggression is the top priority for the treasury department. the net effect of our actions is an unprecedented level. of financial pressure mounted
against the kremlin, oligarch proxies, and key sectors of the russian economy. to date, this administration has applied sanctions on 223 russia related entities and individuals ranging from social media troll farms to cyber actors to russia's state owned conglomerate which has been supplying billions of dollars worth of weaponry to the assad regime. additionally, treasury has issued findings pursuant to the patriot act against a major latvia bank laundering money for illicit activities based out of russia. we have engaged globally with partner nations to apply their anti-laundering. russian aggression is ongoing. the treasury department has demonstrated to putin and his and inner circle that their
behavior will not be tolerated. and they will incur significant costs. we sanctioned seven oligarchs who are part of the innermost circle, along with 12 countries -- companies they own or control. this included putin's son-in-law. unlike the previous administration, we have gone after the big fish. the share price of the holding company that controls rusal was dropped likewise on the day we took our actions. when oligarch's net worth has dropped by an estimated $3 billion and his company has been forced to divest from ventures in italy and switzerland. the ruble slated to its weakest position since two and still has not recovered from that.
in all, our measures are taking a direct toll on the wealthy elite who service proxies to the russian economy. their growth is nearly stagnant. foreign direct investment is down. there is limited willingness to invest in their oil and gas sector which is fundamental to , their society. the cost of growing is up and the central bank is increasingly forced to step in and prop up russian institutions. will we cease to ease up, we will not ease up for as long as this malign behavior persists. as an example, we have imposed additional costs on russian entities. we sanctioned a russian bank. we designated a major russian port operator for providing services to north korean flagged vessels helping to evade sanctions. this morning, we took further measures. we are designating two russia-based shipping companies
who have been conducting ship to ship transfers of oil in circumcision -- circumvention of u.n. laws and we are blocking am a six russian flagged vessels. as part of our ongoing effort to combat russian cyber activities -- i think it is clear the treasury has been given a straightforward mandate to combat russian aggression at every turn. i assure the committee we will continue to do so. i appreciate the opportunity to testify before this committee and answer additional questions on this matter. upmoste all agree is the apart -- importance to our national security. with your permission, i ask that my longer prepared remarks, together with a copy of a report on russian financial behavior be submitted for the record. i look forward to answering questions. thank you, chairman. sen. corker: without objection, i'm going to ask a couple of questions and reserve the rest of my time. i think that the vast majority
of this committee, in listening to the testimony of the two of you, would say that this is a very fact-based, realistic view of what is happening. presented by two very sober individuals who understand russia and their actions to be as they are. i would ask the question, is your testimony today representative of the main stream of the administration from top to bottom? sec. mitchell: yes. sec. billingslea: i agree with that. sen. corker: we obviously are putting tough measures in place. we are seeing no behavior change, is that correct? they are still doing the same things that they have been doing for years.
have we seen any behavior change as a result of what it is we are doing? sec. mitchell: what i would say is that by the net weight of our actions and sanctions, i think we are forcing the russians, and specifically putin to reconsider his preferred strategy. the combined effect of our sanctions, together with our larger defense establishment is a cost strategy. cost in position is what won the cold war. i would argue very clearly by increasing the cost and forcing them to up their game in developing military technological advances to keep pace with the united states, we are having an impact on his preferred strategy. sen. corker: again, i'm not being critical of what it is you are doing, it seems there are
discussions about what we might do to prevent further involvement in our elections, which look like there is no way to stop involvement in our elections. we see it happening today. we see it happening with fringe groups. is there something that is being discussed within the administration that you believe may have even greater impact in what we are doing that might possibly change their behavior, which is the point of all of this? sec. billingslea: we are constantly evaluating additional pressure tactics and sanctions. there are active discussions underway on those matters. i wouldn't want to telegraph those at this stage because if we do act, we want it to have maximum financial impact. had we not been applying the kind of massive a pressure we are applying on the regime, their behavior would be even
further off the charts. we are at least circumscribing their freedom to act, and the amount of resources they have on hand to counter us and serve as a spoiler as they are attempting to do in so many cases across the globe, whether we are talking about venezuela or the iranians and assad. we are forcing them to make some pretty tough resource changes. a number of the oligarchs who thought they would simply get bailed out by the regime for the hit they have taken have in fact not been made whole. due to the fact that the regime is struggling the -- for the kind of resources they would need to do that. sen. corker: i reserve the rest of my time. sen. menendez: i would like to take up the secretary's position that we should have -- a classified briefing on the impact of sanctions and
behavioral change. that would be educational for the committee. sen. corker: i know we had one in banking maybe we should have , that for this committee also. sen. menendez: even listening to your response to the chairman's questions, i think we can generally agree that despite our best efforts, both congress's intentions to the laws it has passed, that russia continues both in destabilizing our democracy, other western democracies, continues to have a frozen conflict in eastern ukraine, continues to occupy crimea, is engaged actively in syria and away that i think -- in a way i think undermines our national interests. is that a fair statement?
assist. sec. mitchell: i think that is a fair statement. i would add that the assessment of the committee is that there is a pattern of pervasive influence. it is not at 2016 levels. the administration is responding to that with a clear strategy. sen. menendez: so we agree, that it is course of conduct. do you support stronger sanctions on the russian energy and banking sectors? sec. mitchell: i support a continuation of the administration's current approach wishes to use the sanction authorities we have. we have a good track record to show for that. sen. menendez: if you have the ability to have stronger sanctions on russia's energy and banking sections, would you will commit? sec. mitchell: we make full review and use of all of the authorities at our disposal, and are always assessing new targets. sen. menendez: we have the secretary of state here, who is your boss, who said he welcomed a new round of sanctions as it relates towards russia. i assume you are in agreement
with them? sec. mitchell: i am. as i said, i would continue using the authorities we have. we have got excellent authorities is -- and we always use the tools that congress gives us. what i would say from the executive branch perspective and for effective diplomacy is that we need discretion with those sanctions. sanctions without discretion is the antithesis of strategy. we have to have the flexibility to use them in a manner that reflects diplomatic realities. sen. menendez: i get concerned when i have seen both this and previous administrations use waiver authority and away far beyond discretion and undermines the intention of congress. do you support the establishment of a sanction coordination office of the state department? sec. mitchell: i would reserve opinion on that matter. we are looking internally at how best to coordinate sanctions.
sen. menendez: we have heard a lot of complaints from the european government. about the lack of senior coordination on sanctions. i would like to commend this to your attention let me ask you . let me ask you both. do you support the establishment of a national fusion center to coordinate policy against malign actors across the whole government? sec. mitchell: i think there is something to the idea for a mechanized them is increasing coordination within government. it is a problem with a lot of different aspects. there's a diplomatic and messaging aspect, an informational aspect. i think it is important to go about this in a way that does not get in the swim lane of current lines of effort. i would argue are doing a good job. i think our team is preparing some structured feedback on the legislation that, the ideas we have seen in the bill. sen. menendez: it is still a policy of the united states to not recognize the illegal annexation of crimea? sec. mitchell: indeed.
sen. menendez: i appreciate you saying that because then i go ahead and see the president veto elements or say that parts of the bill, where he rejected -- thete approved language of annexation of crimea. that is worrisome for some. i don't know why you would do that when it is the state policy of the administration. also the secretary of state has said that and then you get a message sent by the president. let me ask you one more question. the administration imposed sanctions on north korea for using chemical weapons against one of its own people. the killing of the brother of kim jong-un. the administration also designated a state-sponsored tariff on that act. earlier this month, they sanctioned russia for using those chemical weapons against one of their own. a former spy.
you have not designated to be the russian federation of a state sponsor of terrorism. why not? what is the substance of differences between these two? sec. mitchell: i think the administration has been crystal clear on crimea. i would prefer you to the president's comments yesterday when he said that every time he discusses ukraine, he talks about crimea. i think that speaks for itself and we have been strong in that regard. on the matter of designation of states -- sen. menendez: i don't know why you reject the provision of the ndaa. it is the codification of of you. i do not get it. it creates confusion in the world. go ahead. sec. mitchell: on the second part, i don't want to get ahead of the process. i think it is something to always keep in our pocket. i think we're looking very carefully and sober mindedly at russian behavior in all regards. cbw sanctions speak for themselves.
depending on how the russians respond there could be a follow , on to that per the law. i say we reserve to ourselves all options. sen. menendez: there is no differentiation between what happened north korea and the actions the administration took which i applaud and the russian administration. there is no reason we should employ all the uses we have because we need to deter the russian administration from undermining our elections. in continuing to violate the national order. sec. cardin: let me start by reiterating what was said of both of you. i thought you gave us a sober but very thoughtful fact-based presentation today. my question is to you really about why given all the things we are doing, including sanctions, are we not making
better progress? let me start by saying i appreciate that a couple of weeks ago the secretary was able to make clear the findings of the investigation into the russian attempt of the assassination of sergei and his daughter. i think that is a type of thing where we need to hold russia accountable. i appreciate the fact that that triggered some of the sanctions we talked about today. there is so much more. the question was just raised as to how we continue to feel about crimea. you talked about espionage, cyber attacks, disinformation. you talked about the russian invasion of the north korean sanctions. the influence operations at facebook recently talked about does foment destabilization. it is not about right or left
politics. i think you make a good point that when we break this down on a partisan basis here, in this body and country, that only comes to help russia, not us. i hope that we in this committee have been able to avoid that and will continue to. today, microsoft announced it thwarted russian cyber attacks on the iri, the international republican institute and also on the hudson institution. this is ongoing, even as we talk your today. i think sanctions are necessary. you talked about how firms are sanctioned or impacted. the ruble has been devalued. but it is obviously not working the way we would like it to. i'm not saying it doesn't have impact. my question to you is what would be more effective? either additional sanction
pressures or non-sanction pressures. would be most effective encountering -- encountering what is going on and specifically, i would like you, secretary mitchell to talk about the global engagement center. we just set up the center. the idea there was, at least with regard to push back on the disinformation and propaganda to be able to have better coordination and be more effective in pushing back. we have much less resources than the russians use every day. about dealing with the problem with russia? sec. mitchell: thank you for those questions. let me just respond in brief to
the three things you asked. in the first part, i'm not sure i would characterize the efforts in quite the way you have in terms of impact. the chilling effect on the russian economy has been significant and measurable. since 2014, foreign investment in russia has fallen by 80%. at this point, we're looking at an impact through the chilling effect of use of 231 of $8 billion-$10 billion in foreclosed arms deals. i think your broader point on putin and his view of the united states not having a partisan axe to grind is apt. i don't think that putin is a student of jefferson or adams. it is about geopolitics. the groups in question were for -- fomenting violence from a fringe left perspective.
i think we have to understand that we have a competitor who sees a strategic competition. and who is interested in dividing us internally. it is a strategy of chaos for strategic effect. it is incumbent for us to not make it partisan. in terms of the gec, we work very closely. the department has put $20 million of our own resources toward this effort in the period when we're waiting for the additional funds. we are really looking forward to seeing our colleagues at the department offense moving an additional $40 million so we can see the gc up and running in the areas intended. sec. cardin: do you think you have the right staff on board? sec. mitchell: i do. some very capable and knowledgable russia hands. -- we alsose -- work work very closely within our bureau, when our colleagues in russia were pnged and came back -- we take the problem seriously.
i mentioned the capacity we have role, itncluding the is an acronym for a russian missile. we take the department seriously. sec. cardin: in general, the measurements you are using, i appreciate the measurements, the question is what are the consequences that with regard to russia's overt and covert propaganda avoiding sanctions and so on. can we see a measurable result in terms of the actual problems that we hope to be able to address? senator cardin: i just want to concur with the leadership of this committee and thank both of you for your service and your testimonies today. i think it is what we want to hear, so i applaud your service. it has been 93 weeks since the presidential elections.
our intelligence community made it pretty quick assessment as to mr. putin's involvement in our elections. bipartisan support in congress to very quick action, recognizing the threat. i agree with senator portman, this committee and this congress is active in a very bipartisan manner, recognizing the threat of russia. i want to make that clear. mr. mitchell, i appreciate the fact that the policy that you are enumerating, one that i personally support, the way you articulated, indicating it was directed by the president. the problem is, the president hasn't followed. that is the concern. there has been times when the president has made this a very partisan issue. we haven't, he has. the problem is, the president hasn't followed. i think we need to drill down a little bit more on how this policy is being implemented.
you point out, in a very sobering way, that mr. putin wants to break apart the american republic. that is a pretty sobering statement you made. totally consistent with reports i authored on behalf of members of this committee in january that said that mr. putin is not only trying to compromise our democratic system here in america, but he has his eyes on democratic nations of europe, trying to bring them down as well. that is pretty sobering. our report pointed out that to counter that, you need strong leadership. i appreciate the fact that we have had arguments as to the effect of sanctions. one thing is clear to me. if you don't stand up to mr. putin, he will take the situation and move even further. could there have been more activity by mr. putin?
probably, yes. he will fill a void. i think it is important for us to be very sober about mr. putin's activities and what he is trying to do. let me get to this point because one it concerns me about the president's actions. i saw helsinki. in the private meetings, filling -- spilling into the narrative about mr. putin and his concept of how governments operate. compromising our democratic system in the manner of which that meeting took place. they were scurrying in washington to try and handle -- they were celebrating in scurrying they were in washington to try to figure out some of the statements that were made. first, try to assure me that -- you say sanctions the -- need discretion. i understand that. the problem is, one person can
exercise that discretion. the president of the united states. we saw that the president might very well -- we know there have been discussions about sanctions and with mr. putin, etc. have you been briefed as to what happened in helsinki in regards to discussions on sanctions? sec. mitchell: i have been briefed on the appropriate information i need to carry out my job in regards to russia. the president was also clear in an interview yesterday. the question you are asking, he was very clear about this. beyond that, i would say he was very clear with regard to raising with vladimir putin the except ability of interacting in our elections. with all due respect, i'm not going to litigate the specifics of every, the president has made.
i would point you toward our policies directed by the president. i disagree with your overall characterization that the president had has an followed -- has not followed his policies. these are his policies. he directed a russia strategy. a strategy for countering russian influence. the previous administration did not. i would point you to the 2010 national security to russia and compared to ours. obama called russia a mighty river and said that america wanted to ensure its rightful place among the great powers. >> i understand the policy right now. you are assuring this committee that unless russia changes its behavior, we will not only maintain all of our sanctions, you are looking for ways to strengthen those sanctions
against russia and are prepared to work with this committee to give you additional tools in order to make it clear that without tangible, specific results, these sanctions will be maintained and expanded? sec. mitchell: yes. i think that is also clear from our actions in the past year and a half. >> thank you. sen. corker: i'm going to make one observation. my observation would be that some of the undisciplined comments that the president makes creates just as much trouble for these people as they do for us and the rest of our country. let me just give an example. the 232 tariff issue, which i believe is an abuse of the president's authority, were you involved at all in discussing the use of a national security waiver to put tariffs in place, which usually affects the portfolio you are working on.
were you asked? was the state department asked? sec. mitchell: there was an extensive and her agency process on that matter. sen. corker: did you support it? sec. mitchell: what i supported was the president's trade policy overall. i think as you see from the current u.s.-eu dynamic in trade, it is a strategy that is working. sen. corker: i will take a little more of my time. how is it working? sec. mitchell: we currently have a conversation underway, a structured dialogue with the european union about a lowering of eu barriers to american products and services. sen. corker: it is our understanding that the european union asked to go to zero tariffs when they met with the president on automobiles and he did not do that. he wanted to keep a 5% tariff on trucks so it is us.
sec. mitchell: the president has repeatedly and publicly pledged to go to zero-zero if the europeans were willing to do this. they haven't been willing to engage in a process until the president used 232. sen. corker: you support the idea of using a national security waiver to put tariffs on steel and aluminum? sec. mitchell: i support the policies of the president. sen. corker:? the -- did the department support the use of the 232 waiver? >> this is one administration. there is an interagency process to everything you are asking about and we are on the same page. sen. paul: think we have asked some really important questions. a really important question we have to ask is do sanctions , change behavior? without the answer to that, i don't think we can decide whether or not we want more sanctions unless we see if they work.
that is another way of asking the question, do sanctions work? with regard to iran when the world has sanctions, there were obviously evidence that it works to bring them to the negotiation table. in this case, there really is a question, do they work and do more sanctions work even better? one possibility is that they don't work. if they don't work, what is the result of sanctions? one result might be that it draws russia more into the sphere of china and drives countries such as turkey into this fear of either russia or china. i think there are arguments it to be made that perhaps more sanctions aren't the way to go. sanctions are sort of the stick. the question is what is the carrot? i would say that one of the carrots might be considering whether or not we continue to insist that ukraine and georgia is be in nato. i think that if you really wanted to influence russia's behavior, and you are talking at a one-to-one basis with russia,
you were able to have some sort of agreement, i think an agreement not to have georgia in nato might lead to less conflict in both ukraine and georgia. there is the argument that much of the military conflict in fomenting a military conflict is because they do seriously fear and worry and are opposed to having them in nato. if the west insist on pushing nato into eastern europe, and into the surrounding countries around russia, that it will lead to the rise of militarism, nationalism, and ultimately an aggressive leader in russia. this was said in 1998 and i think the words had great prescience in the sense of what is happening. in addition to having the sanctions but also showing an openness to dialogue, one of the
things that we could and ought to consider is whether there is any element of the sanctions we would be willing to negotiate lessening of sanctions in exchange for maybe a smaller change in behavior. if we wait for russia to leave crimea to lift any sanctions. we may well be waiting until the end of time. perhaps there are some sanctions that we make see are counterproductive. i think even in the midst of adding more sanctions, we ought to consider whether it is productive to dialogue not have dialogue, even if you want to complain about election modeling. -- meddling. you would think that you would want to meet with the russian legislatures to talk about russian meddling. if we cut off dialogue between the legislatures in russia and here, i don't necessarily see that that is going to change
their behavior, but it does block off the ability for us to have dialogue with russia from their foreign relations to our foreign relations. i would ask that the members of the committee at least think about it as a push is towards more sanctions, whether or not we ought to at least think about whether or not we want to prevent their legislators from traveling here, and then they do the same. basically to our legislators. there are things that despite our differences we should continue to talk about and this is the basis of my question. the new start treaty was completed in 2010, expires at the end of 2020. where do we stand on discussions with russia? do we have ongoing discussions, negotiators, what is the status of the new start treaty and our discussions with russia? sec. mitchell: if i could respond briefly to the first part of what you said. i agree with you that sanctions
are a tool of strategic statecraft. right now, the united states has 4190 sanctions worldwide and 580 against the russian federation. that point us toward the need for sanctions to always be in a clear strategy. the role is for congress to be very specific about what changed behaviors is needed in order for sanctions to be lifted. with regard to new start, we have been very clear that russia's violation of the inf treaty has created a deficit of trust. that extends across the arms control ecosystem in all of our conversations with the russians. we are looking both carefully and closely at the question of the future of new start. i would say at this point, any decision regarding a potential extension be made at the appropriate time. we would determine whether it is in the national interest of the u.s. sen. paul: we don't have a
formal dialogue on inf or new start with actual negotiators, or do we? sec. mitchell: what we have at present, is a line of sight to continue the process instability talks. we will only know about that when mr. bolton comes back this week. sen. corker: i would make the senator paul aware, and appreciate your perspective that we were in conversation with the former ambassador here from russia about potentially reestablishing the parliamentary discussions. in lieu of waiving sanctions, what we had discussed was meeting them in a neutral place. i did want you to know that those conversations had taken place in the past. there were no discussions that i remember of waiving sanctions,
but certainly needing a neutral territory to dialogue. whether that is something we want to discuss again, we can talk about that internally, but those have taken place in the past. sen. shaheen: i applaud the policy positions you have outlined today. i think the concern and confusion among americans and the world have come because of the contradictory statements of the president. because of his failure to consistently acknowledge russia's actions to influence the 2016 elections and their ongoing meddling in 2018. i appreciate the opportunity to explore the policy positions that are underway, but i think until we see a change in that behavior, we are going to
continue to seek confusion and concern and i am not asking you to respond to that. that was a statement, not a question. can you tell me the status of the sanctions announced on august 8. have they actually been imposed? sec. billingslea: the sanctions in response to the use of the nerve agent in the united kingdom, those have been imposed. they were imposed under a state department authority. i would defer to secretary mitchell on that. we were in close consultation with the state department in the run-up to that. as secretary mitchell has as secretary mitchell has indicated, depending on how russia reacts, there is a menu of additional follow-on options that range in potential severity, which we are in close discussion on as well.
sec. shaheen: secretary mitchell, are we supporting the foreign minister's call to the eu to impose stronger sanctions on russia and are we working to try and encourage the eu to do that? sec. mitchell: yes we are senator, very much so. we are in close consultation with our british counterparts on an almost daily basis. i would add, we were encouraged to see that the europeans, partly because of u.s. engagement, created their own distinct chemical weapons-related sanctions authorities, which was a new and important step. sen. shaheen: i agree, i think that's positive. as we have discussed before, i had the opportunity to visit
syria and see the stabilization efforts that have taken place in northeast syria along the turkish border, and how much the syrian people have benefited from that, from throwing isis out of that, and continue to be very troubled by the fact that the administration has withheld stabilization funds for that part of syria. how does continuing to deny efforts to support stabilization in that area fit with our russia policy? because doesn't that give russia and assad and iran and turkey, for that matter, all the opportunity to go into that part of syria who has a chance now to with continued stabilization and continued support to continue to be a place where the syrians can enjoy some level of freedom from violence and from assad and his regime, and from all of the other actors in the region? so, how does that make sense in
terms of a policy for russia? sec. mitchell: thank you for the question. no, i appreciate the question. i would say nothing would be better from a russian perspective than to see u.s. aid flowing in syria in many different regards prior to a clear commitment to a political process in geneva. this is part of the stock russian approach to make steps on syria. to see the united states essentially bankroll various forms of stabilization reconstruction, before we see the russians do their part in committing to a political process. >> i am not talking about policy. >> i understand the question. how does allowing foreign influence to go into that area and undermine everything we have done to stabilize the region post-isis to work with the syrian democratic forces, how does that benefit policy that
says we would like to get people to the table? if anything, i think it would encourage the russians to go to the table because they have seen what we had been able to do with the syrian people. sen. shaheen: senator, what i would say is that we take very seriously taxpayer resources as they relate to the syria problem in its entirety, we are cognizant of how that fits with the russia strategy and it's not clear to me that the actions we are having are creating a vacuum for other players. sen. shaheen: have you been there? sec. mitchell: no, ma'am. sen. shaheen: i would encourage you to go, i think it would be very illuminating in terms of the difference that we have been able to make with our military on the ground there, with other coalition forces, and to give up the playing field there and to allow other influences to go back in i think is not in our
interest or the syrian people's interest. thank you, mr. chairman. >> secretary mitchell, welcome. i would like to return to what you have indicated in your written statement is putin's thesis. that the american constitution will fail from the right way within. putin wants to break apart the american republic, you say, not by influencing elections but by systemically inflaming the perceived faultlines that exist with our society. this is a serious point. can you elaborate on that point? sec. mitchell: well, i think that what we see in russian strategic behavior, as it relates to influence operations is more or less consistent with standard russian operating procedure and influence operations all the way back to the 1930's. the bolsheviks, later the soviet state, look, even within the united states before the social media age, russians have been at
this since at least the 1960's ot 1970's. this is not particularly new in that regard. what's new is the tools and the scale, the digitization of this, digital means and social media, and the fact that this is being directed from a high level with state media resources behind it. i think that what we have seen in the russian approach the united states influence of operations is very much not a partisan effort. i think it's a very cynical effort to pit pre-existing political camps against one another. i would just refer you to some of the groups that facebook made the decision to shut down. look at what they were promoting. look at what they stood for. these particular groups were on the far left and were aware very much of the media from the far right. these were from the far left. they were putting money and organizational efforts behind groups that stood for really heinous and hideous causes inside of the american polity. we have seen since january of last year after the president
was elected, the russians have put money behind groups that have fomented anti-trump protest, including the one in madison square garden that drew thousands of people immediately after the election. so the point is that from our competitor's standpoint, the goal is to divide us internally. there's not any reflective political philosophy as it relates to american politics. it's an effort to divide us. sen. young: we have heard from members, various documents produced from the intelligence community in the past as well that the difference here is not in the attempt to influence the united states, but it is indeed in the tools. it's the breadth and extent to which the influence operations have been tried and it may also have something to do with the interaction between those tools and a particular moment in political history as well. so, secretary billingsley, i welcome you as well to this committee. great to have you. you write in your prepared
written statement that russia's continuing occupation of crimea , human rights abuses and attacks, illicit procurement of intel technologies, election interference, and other influence efforts, as well as their support to the assad regime, the massacre of its own citizens, are all unacceptable. you know, my colleagues have already asked in a couple of different ways whether or not the sanctions are working. i think there has been an acknowledgment that the purpose of the sanctions is not just to influence the russian economy. it's to deal with these other objectives. these continuing problems we have. have we seen improvement with respect to any of these? crimea? human rights? cyber attacks? procurement of sensitive technologies, so on and so forth? election interference on account of our implementation of sanctions?
sec. billingslea: sir, that's a great question. there's a difference between working and having an effect. our sanctions are working to the extent that they are integrated into a larger strategy that the administration is executing to deal with these russian malign behaviors. but our sanctions are also having a clear measurable effect. i will give you some examples. over on export, the huge defense conglomerate sending the fighter jets dropping the barrel bombs of chlorine on the populations in syria, they are having a hard time getting paid for a number of their deals. so we are impairing the effectiveness and constraining the putin regime and their freedom to maneuver, but the extent to which it is all working depends on the synchronization of a lot of other measures. sen. young: i understand that there should be a broader strategy, so can you name some of the other tools being
affectnted, utilized to change in these many continuing areas of challenge? and perhaps you can tell us what additional steps we might take vis-a-vis the russians to implement that change. sec. billingslea: chairman, if i might, and i will sneak in what i wanted to say to senator's shaheen as well here, which is in the capacity of this committee, the work that you do, it's incredibly important that we message very clearly to a number of european allies, particularly your eastern european allies, it's critical they shore up their anti-money laundering regimes and that they tighten down on how they regulate money coming out of russia. there's an enormous amount of money still being exfiltrated russia by both organized crime and cronies surrounding putin. to the extent that you have parliamentary relations with latvia, or you engage with cyprus and malta or other
offshore jurisdictions, i think reinforcing that message would be incredibly helpful. we really need to clamp down globally on these money flows that are associated with the movement of the large amounts of money of out of russia. sen. young: thank you both. senator murphy? sen. murphy: thank you very much, mr. chairman. i thought are hearing with secretary pompeo was extraordinary and i wish it had gotten more attention. chiefly, in the argument that the secretary was making to us, that we should ignore what the president says and pay attention only to what the state department does, and we're hearing a strain of that today. but the argument is extraordinary, because it essentially admits that there are two different american foreign policies today. one articulated by the president in a statement that he makes standing next to president putin or on his twitter feed. just yesterday to reuters, the president once again said it
might not have been the russians that interfered in the u.s. elections. and then i would argue there is the much more mainstream foreign policy being administered in part by the two incredibly patriotic representatives of the american government standing here today. and so, i wanted to pose a question i guess to you, secretary mitchell. in the context of how this plays out on the issue of propaganda, building off the question that senator portman asked you, you have gone and worked with secretary pompeo to find some money to get that up and running. i agree that it is going to make a difference. but there was a really interesting poll about one week ago in this country that showed that 43% of republican voters believe that the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior. which is reflective of this
obsession, especially over the past few weeks, that the president has with what he calls the enemy of the people. which is a really, really terrible term given the fact that it is rooted in a stalin-era murderous campaign against journalists and anyone that opposed the russian government at that point. and so, i feel like you are doing some great stuff on the gec. you are doing some innovative work to push back on russian propaganda, but then the president is handing the russian government a gift through his regular attacks on the free press that seems to endorse the same kind of work that vladimir putin is doing in his own country and around the periphery. so, i guess the question is, isn't putin's assault on the free and independent press inside russia and in the russian periphery emboldened by president trump's regurgitation
of the stalin-era attacks on american media? >> thank you for your questions, senator. let me respond to the two things you have said. first i want to push back on this idea that there is a strategy that is the separate from the views of the president. this is the president's administration. this is his foreign-policy. national defense strategy, the directives that we have for policy are coming from the president. the strategy overall i would characterize on russia in one sentence -- continue raising the cost until russian aggression ceases while keeping the door open to dialogue. i think if you look at the last 18 months, this is exactly what we have done. i look at the president's efforts of dialogue within the context of an administration that is increasing defense spending by billions of dollars, recapitalizing a nuclear arsenal and has had 222 sanctions on russian individuals and entities. in contrast to the previous administration that sought dialogue, but did so while gutting our military, talking about global zero in nuclear
weapons. so i think the context matters. i think the strategy documents send a very signal about what we are trying to accomplish with russia and i think it's the right approach. sen. murphy: but the president said yesterday that it might not have been russia. that is not the policy of the state department, right? but that is not what the president said yesterday. sec. mitchell: i have a listed front of me on the instances in which the president has been very clear in attributing to russia interference in our elections and pushing back on that. sen. murphy: got it. yesterday. tell me how it plays out in the context of propaganda, specifically talk about whether you have any fears about the president's rhetoric on the american free press being an enemy of the people has on your work. again, i think you are trying to do the right thing here in trying to work with us, but if you think it's no problem, tell me it's no problem. sec. mitchell: senator, just in point of fact, what the president had said is that the
-- he did not say the free press is the enemy of the people. had said is that the fake news was the enemy of the people. it's a fundamental role work of a representational republic. i think today's meeting is unprecedentedly polemical. and the debate has gone beyond the pale of what we have seen on the part of the media in a long time. it's part of a healthy democracy. if what you're asking me to do is comment on politics, i will stick to my job, which is policy. sen. murphy: thank you. i don't want to lead you down this road because i frankly know what you believe, i know that you don't believe that the press is the enemy of the people and i want to make sure that this committee understands that we have a tough job trying to give you the resources while your work is being compromised by the statements of the president. so again, i think we are all very appreciative of the work that you are doing, but it's
important in these hearings to acknowledge this separation between the president's rhetoric and the policies of the state department. sec. mitchell: the foreign policy of the united states, we are executing the policy directives of the president. full stop. >> if i could, we do appreciate the work that you both do, and you know that. i think that what we see happening is what george cannon said in his telegram back in 1946. i mean, this is what russia has been carrying out for years. and to ferment this unity in our own country, but also to this unity with other western powers, i mean, this has been a long-term -- we had some glimmers of hope at points in time and it has been a long time since we have had those glimmers of hope, but it has been the same policy and i think sometimes the president's comments help create additional disunity with the west.
and i think that is what people are referring to here. and we know that makes your job difficult. but we have these policies that are put in place. we're unified behind those policies. you are unified. but our commander-in-chief continues to undermine those either with undisciplined comments or purposeful comments, and that is what the committee is referring to. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. they have talked to me more about the news and they have talked to me about my comments with the president. i hope they win one of those arguments soon. secretary mitchell, let me ask you a question. in your prepared statement on statement, in quotation marks, "military power second to none, fully integrated with our allies and all of our instruments of power, referring to the strength of america's foreign policy lies in military power that is second to none.
fully integrated with our allies. is that correct? i agree with that. and do you feel like at this point in time in history we are at the point where we are fully integrated and we are fully working towards nda, where we are on the right track? sec. mitchell: i think we are on the right track. but i think we disagree with allies on a lot of areas of policy but on a daily basis we see more commonality between the u.s. and european allies than we see differences. sen. isakson: and it seems to me that there is no policy that will work unless america's military is the ultimate fallback position. you don't want it to be opening hand, but the ace in the hole. sec. mitchell: it provides the basis of context for every thing you do in the strategy. contrasting this with a previous administration, if you have got an attempted dialogue with russia while you have sequestration under way, you are operating from a position of weakness.
and while you are trying to go to nuclear zero your operating from a position of weakness. if you have a dialogue with the russian federation in the context of a strong national defense establishment where you have got a tremendous $700 bi llion increase underway in your recapitalized arsenal i think you are operating from a position of strength. sen. isakson: you are sending the right signal, no doubt about it, in my opinion. talking about nuclear weapons, on the new treaty, i was in the senate in 2010, mr. chairman, when we did the new star treaty. i think that treaty expires in 2021, is that correct? 2020? i think you are asked a minute ago you were asked by senator paul if the administration had taken a position yet on renegotiating the 2020 reauthorization of the new star treaty. have you? sec. mitchell: we have not. sen. isakson: have the russians engaged in conversation about it? sec. mitchell: the russians cancel the previous attempt at strategic stability talks, which
is where we see broader implications on arms control. as you probably know, it is publicly known that there are questions on various aspects of american compliance that we see as being nefarious. short answer to your question is, at this point there is not an administrative position on what we will do and we will make that decision at the appropriate time consistent with national interests. sen. isakson: we negotiated a unique identifier on warheads, which we never had before. how has the unique identifier worked since implementation? sec. mitchell: i would want to provide a full or response in a classified setting. sen. isakson: i would like to have that, if we could. if we ever go far enough with north korea that we are in effect moving towards nuclear weapons we will need systems like that to make sure that we can trust and verify. i think that was a good program that we established. lastly, i have seen the horrible pictures on tv almost every night in the last week about the gas and chemical weapons used in syria.
and i know the russians have pretty much gotten their least established on the deepwater port, is that correct? they were meddling there for a lot of reasons but one of them was access to a port, if i'm not mistaken? is that request -- correct? sec. mitchell: i'm sorry, could you repeat the question? sen. isakson: russians were seeking a port very badly so they could get out of the conflict with syria? is that correct? sec. mitchell: i'm sorry, i don't fully understand the question. syria? that's correct. sen. isakson: did i say some wrong? sec. mitchell: no, i just misunderstood. sen. isakson: ok, good. what do you think are the future prospects for continued russian engagement and engagement with iran and syria? it appears to be going from a situation that one from a reasonable case of hope to an unreasonable position of hate being fulfilled. what do you see?
sec. mitchell: we see two things. some modest constructive steps on the part of the russians, i would call particular attention to the engagement with israel. looking at some israeli security concerns with regards to syria. on the other hand, you see putin aiding and abetting a murderous regime. not supporting the legitimate process of geneva and creating a parallel process. so, on balance the russians are not being a constructive actor in syria. sen. isakson: thank you both for your service. >> senator booker? >> not here. >> senator markley? sen. markley: thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you both for your testimony. in february the state department put out a statement that new start enhances the safety and security of the u.s. while you have not reached a decision on whether it will be extended, is that a statement that you feel comfortable
continuing to assert? sec. mitchell: yes, sir. sen. merkley: thank you. we have various reports circulating of the conversations that took place in the president's one-on-one meeting with president putin. has there been, for the assistance of the departmental interagency process, a sense of a clear memo of what was discussed and what should flow from those discussions? sec. mitchell: both secretary pompeo and national security adviser will received extensive debriefings about the president that have trickled through in the form of policy directives. there has been extensive interagency processes regarding communication with all the posts. sen. merkley: can you share a couple of those directives that flown from that one-on-one meeting? sec. mitchell: they are a continuation of a previous policy and with regards to
ukraine the centrality of those agreements is the gateway to any forward movement. sen. merkley: you are saying those were specifically the things were discussed by the president? sec. mitchell: human thing discussed there was an agreement for the tubing national security council's to meet. sen. merkley: that wasn't the question, but you can go on in confusing the situation between the one-on-one meeting and the broader meeting. but that's not helpful when that is not what we are asking. now, let's turn to myanmar. this saturday is the one year anniversary of the launch of the massive ethnic cleansing that took place. and right now we understand there is a state department report that is being held and is possibly going to be released. is it going to be released? i'm not sure which one of you would like to respond to that. sec. mitchell: i would be happy to get you more information. it doesn't follow under my area of responsibility. but i have followed the issue broadly and i would be happy to follow up with you.
>> senator, at treasury we are tracking this closely and we have just last week sanctioned a number -- two of the army units involved and a number of the officials who have been -- four specifically, and two army units, but not the heads, which both canada and europe have sanctioned. we haven't reached the same point that canada and europe reached far earlier. is it your sense that the state department report will be released on the anniversary? >> that is a state department question. >> let me share with you that bipartisan numbers of this committee weighed in with a letter to the state department saying specifically to seize the opportunity with this one year anniversary. seize this anniversary to release the report. seize this opportunity to provide more aggressive sanctions. seize this opportunity to
reinforce support for bangladesh, which is struggling in the middle of a monsoon with housing and refugee camps for 700,000 additional rohingya. seize the opportunity for the president to speak specifically to this issue, because outside of a confidential setting, he hasn't done so. this really is a place in the world where there is massive genocide, ethnic cleansing. if america is to be respected in the world, our president needs to speak to the issue. so, i will ask each of you -- do you support the idea that the united states show some leadership in response to this ethnic cleansing? thank you. >> the challenge we face on election hacking continues to be substantial but there is a lot of discussion about how russia is continuing to aggravate social divisions in this country. to basically set americans against americans on a host of social issues. do you feel like we are doing
all we can to take on this effort by russia to tear big holes in the social fabric of our nation? sec. mitchell: i do. we have a whole of government approach and a strong interagency process but i will add, as you heard from secretary pompeo, we welcome additional tools from congress and use them with all the appropriate authorities. >> on top of that, as we continue to refine the individuals who are engaged in this unacceptable behavior and the individual behind it, we will continue to go after them. >> thank you very much. gentlemen, thank you for your service and this has been very productive. first of all, i hope the american people will take note
of the direct effect that our sanctions have had so far. i think that was a really good explanation of this effect, which really isn't reported very widely in the national media and i expect it probably will not be this time, but the more exposure we can give them is really important. i think that obviously the sanctions have two purposes. one is the direct effect to inflict pain. but the real objective is to change conduct. and you also did a good job, i of listing the conduct we are attempting to change, and that is really a stunning list of some awful things that the russians are doing and continue to do. and i think that one of the points that has been made here i think is the frustration that everyone has, that the sanctions aren't causing immediate change in conduct. i think our experience over the years has been that sanctions are not kinetic action.
they don't spur immediate change in conduct, but take time. i think the best example of that right now is the sanctions placed on iran. they have been in place for a long, long time. and again, one of the underreported stories is the effect that the sanctions are having internally on the financial affairs in iran. it is stunning when you find out with the details of that are. again, for whatever reason it is not being reported. and i think the same thing is going to take place here. and the question that i have for you is -- you know, when you do do these sanctions and it does inflict pain on a populous, it it takes time for the paint to trickle up and the populace to affect the people in charge. obviously, when you are in a country that is influenced more
by a religious fervor, a radical religious fervor like in iran, that is different than in russia where money is really important. i would like to hear each of your opinions on the time that this is going to take. over the years, i know we have sat in this room and talk about the patience it takes as we attempted to influence iran. i would like to hear your thoughts on the time that this is going to take for it does actually start to pressure the people at the top, where there will be some change in behavior. mr. billingsley? could we start with you, these? sec. billingsley: thank you, senator. you raised exactly the key point, which is that sanctions are designed to induce a change in behavior. very seldom, i think, do we see that sanctions have an instantaneous effect in that respect, but the cumulative
effect over time can in fact be a noteworthy change in behavior. that is what we are seeking to accomplish with all the different sanctions regimes we are implementing, whether we are talking about executive orders related to venezuela or the north korea campaign, the iranian campaign, or in the case of russia. the challenge that we face with russia is that we are dealing with a markedly different scale here in terms of the size of the economy. this is the world's 13th largest economy, $1 trillion economy. they are the foremost oil producer, second largest oil exporter. they hold europe, in effect, hostage to energy supply in so many respects. they are also deeply into the supply chains relating to copper, even titanium with us. it's a different calculus and calibration than we would be
dealing with, like with the hermit kingdom of north korea or the iranians. i would recommend the way that we, i will say attack, the russian challenge, has to take this into account. sec. miitchell: i would concur with that and i appreciate your raising that point. we always differentiate between the russian people, the russian state, and oligarchy. i think the russian people have suffered enormously. we look at every way possible in our bureau to engage the russian people. it's often difficult. i was recently at the russian embassy and i think it's important to keep up that engagement. your broader question is apt. there is a certain calculus i think on putin's part that he and those around him can weather, to some extent, sanctions because of the insularity of the regime. this is a fairly insulated regime and oligarchy. we have gone more deeply into the territory of going after those individuals than previous administrations.
we have gone after putin's son-in-law. my own view of this is that when you see vladimir putin's popularity ratings falling 15%, 20% since he was elected, that doesn't mean that change comes immediately, but it does underscore that the pain is starting to have an effect. i think this administration has been clear that we are prepared to take additional steps. there is an escalatory or a -- ladder to sanctions. we are aware of the additional steps needed to make a bigger point. if you look at our actions over the last year and a half, they have been escalatory and progressive. we are willing to take the sets necessary to further penalize russian behavior. sen. risch: thank you both for what you are doing. >> the russian spokesperson this morning said they were advised that there is no evidence of collusion. between russia and the united states in the election. so, they are clearly in denial.
that continues to be their posture. we are hearing that their behavior continues. in fact, maybe intensifying 10 weeks before an election in the united states of america. so if that is the case, how, how more authority do you need to ratchet up the sanctions against russia? it is 10 weeks to go. time is of the essence. do you intend on doing that, given the evidence that you have right now? we don't have time for a long deliberative process. we have to make sure in the final four weeks the sanctions are in place. >> the first part of what you said, i would just say that i think that public statements from the russian government are -- berately abuse get torry obfuscatory.
we revoked immediately after the facebook expulsion and i think that the general russian official posture is one that deliberately misleads and says we have no idea what you're talking about. in response i would say -- sen. markey: it just says to me that they are not responding, not listening. only the infliction of additional sanctions pain will get them to change their behavior. we need an intervention in the underlying pathology here. obfuscation in defense of interjection of a foreign power into our elections is an obvious strategy. so what do we do now? sec. miitchell: i understand your point and i agree, but i wouldn't confuse the statements being made by the russian foreign ministry publicly with the question of whether we are having an impact. we have the authority that we need and we're using it. sen. markey: i'm asking you, is the impact working right now? or are they just continuing and escalating, in your opinion? sec. mitchell: i would reference what director coates said and director ray -- wray said.
this is wrought into deep, ongoing, we are not at the levels of the 2016 election. it's an ongoing threat. we have an interagency process and structures to confront it. sen. markey: well i think it's time to have the interagency meeting, 10 weeks out, that makes the decision as to whether or not we increase those sanctions. with regards to the discussion between mr. putin and mr. trump and the new stock treaty, can you tell us what happened in that discussion between the two of them? sec. miitchell: these were not deeply substantive discussions. the only agreement was that the -- that came out of helsinki was for the two national security council's to meet again, which they are doing this week. sen. markey: you are saying that there was no extensive discussion about a new start between the two of them? sec. miitchell: i think that the secretary and the president have been clear on that publicly. sen. markey: regarding the inf
treaty, was there a discussion on that issue? sec. mitchell: i'm not sure what has been said publicly about that by the president and i want to respect executive prerogative. and not get into the private details of a conversation between these two leaders. sen. markey: have you been briefed on any conversation that took place between trump and putin on the inf treaty? sec. mitchell: i receive the -- i have received the information i need to do my job as it relates to russia. sen. markey: does that mean that you have been briefed on the inf treaty? did the president say to putin that russia is in violation of a treaty that deals with nuclear weapons, threats to the united states. did he say those words? sec. mitchell: i'm not aware of anything that was devoted to imf. sen. markey: you are not. sec. miitchell: no. sen. markey: do you think that inf is important to u.s.
interests -- national security interests? sec. mitchell: i do. similar caveat. again, obvious it should be expected. i was pleased to see in terms of russia, aiding north korea, that was a positive step and i still worry about enforcing existing sanctions. for example, on north korean slave labor, recent reports indicate that russia is using north korea labor regularly. mr. billingsley, are you considering additional sanctions against russia? because of their use of that north korean labor? sec. billingsley: thanks for the question. we continue to work with russia in the department of state to abide by un security council resolutions that call for a wind up of the labor licenses and the return of those workers out of
russia and we are concerned about the slow roll we are observing in connection with that. we are also extremely concerned about other even asian -- evasion behaviors. sen. markey: are you considering new sanctions? sec. billingslea: on russia, we are. sen. markey: because of this labor issue? sec. billingslea: senator, i will have to get you -- back to you on that. i don't want to telegraph punches, probably, but we are actively looking at is asian -- evasion scenarios across the board. >> when you said the interference right now is not as it was in 2016, what you are saying is the interference we are seeing is slightly less intense? is that correct? >> that is correct, and i was referencing director coats' comments. senator garner: following up on
senator markey's comments, the sanctioning of russian ships for their trade violations when it comes to north korea. i would point out additional articles from "the wall street journal" and others that talk about the depths of continued acceptance into russia of north korean laborers. it doesn't seem to be lessening. in fact, it seems to be increasing. i would hope that you would take a look, secretary billingslea, at the names of businesses asking for korean translators in order to deal with the number of foreign workers in north korea. -- coming in from north korea. we know as much as 80% of the salary that the north korean worker is supposed receive is being siphoned off and going to prop up the kim jong-un regime for a grand total of over $2 billion. that goes indirectly -- directly
in to the nefarious activities that he continues to pursue, including reports today from the u.n. watchdog that there is no indication that north korea is slowing down or stopping its nuclear program. so if we are going to have a doctrine of maximum pressure, perhaps it's time that we start saying publicly that we are going to sanction these companies in russia, china, and around the globe that continue to violate sanctions when it comes to north korea. i think if we are going to be serious about trying to get russia and china to follow through on their commitments to u.n. sanctions, perhaps we can take a look at these companies and start sanctioning them. i mean, here is one right here. i am not going to be able to pronounce it, but there is companies] these are all companies that continue to take north korean labor and it would be nice to see that treasury start to sanction them. august 2, we know that -- was signed last year, but it
requires predetermination of 90 days and whether they should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and it was made on november 20. president trump announced that north korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil. february 22nd, 2018, the united states determined under the biological control warfare in -- and elimination act of 1991 that the government warfare agent vx to actively assassinate kim jong-un's half brother in an airport. they subsequently imposed sanctions on north korea for that attack and the russian government attempted to assassinate nationals in two salisbury, the united kingdom. then the state department determined that the russian that has used chemical or violation -- biological weapons in violation of international law or has used lethal or biological weapons against its own nationals in the attack. sanctions were imposed against
russia for that attack. on april 24, i know we have talked about this regarding the the state department to make a determination as designating russia as a state sponsor of terror. from the kremlin aggression act, introduced by senators graham and others on august 2. i wrote an op-ed not long ago that the moral designation is -- case for a designation is sound. russia as a state sponsor of terror. russia has invaded its neighbors, georgia and ukraine and supports the murderous regime of bashar al-assad and is engaged in active information warfare against western democracies, putting meddling in the 2016 united states election. as we have talked about here, continuing to attempt to influence the elections going forward. to both of you, do you believe the russian federation has supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil? mr. billingslea?
yes or no? sec. billingslea: they have definitely engaged in outrageous behavior. -- salivary attack is salisbury attack. more than once. sen. gardner: secretary mitchell? sec. mitchell: i agree with the premise. i don't want to get ahead of our deliberative ross as about what to do about it, but there is no contesting the fact. sen. gardner: do you agree that the salisbury attack is not the only instance? sec. mitchell: i would not be prepared to answer that definitively in this setting. sec. billingslea: i think we would need to go into closed session, but i would be comfortable to say that i have -- they have engaged in this behavior more than once. sen. gardner: do you agree that they are a malign actor that undermine global peace and stability? sec. billingslea: i do. sec. miitchell: assuredly. sen. gardner: do you believe the kremlin has violated international law? both of you, yes. would you support a process that would allow the state department
90 days to determine whether or not russia should be designated state sponsor of terror? sec. mitchell: i would need more information and need to start -- need to know the secretary's views. i understand the direction you are going and the appropriate way to go about it would be when our team in the next week or so comes over, consider. sec. billingslea: that is the state department's call on the designation. however, it is important to know that if we have any evidence that a russian actor is supporting a terrorist, we will go after them regardless of the state-sponsored level designations. sen. gardner: what additional sanctions would russia face if such a distinct mint -- distinction were made? sec. billingslea: state sponsor? i would say that there would not be an immediate wave of actions. we would have to work with the department of state to identify which prongs in the russian government would be viewed as the enablers of those behaviors. much the way we have done in other cases. sen. gardner: thank you.
senator corker: senator rubio? senator rubio: i want to lay out the framework embedded in your testimony. one of the things, we are struggling with two things as we debate it probably and even here on the committee and beyond. the first is that we haven't fully accepted yet that we are back to historically normal areas of great competition. a5 years, we have been in unipolar world. we had difficulties with certain countries, but now we have competitors in china and in the military realm we have a near competitor in certain spheres geopolitically in russia. in that realm, i think the second thing that we struggle with is the notion that informational warfare is not warfare. it's warfare by different means. it has always been a part of war care -- warfare. the difference now is the propaganda and the efforts to divide, demoralize, confuse the enemy, you can do it electronically now. so what is happening now is not a part of an effort to help republicans, the democrats,
independents, vegetarians, whatever party you want to take. it is an effort to help divide us against each other and we can -- we can us internally and from within. that's the tactic. in terms of our policies, you see the simplistic way we are -- some people approach this. one group argues we should be talking to them at all. which i think is, despite my deep antagonism towards vladimir putin and what he represents and the things he's done, i do want to see a shooting war, it would be catastrophic for the world. at a minimum, that should keep you engaging in talking, and working where possible within the context of understanding the you are in a competition worth his making than ours, but one that he believes is a zero-sum game where he can only get stronger if we get weaker and the flipside is that if we just talked and were nicer to each other, we would be able to get along better, which is also false because in the end it goes back to what i just said. he uses zero-sum competition and the only way that he can be stronger and restore russia to
greatness -- at least his vision of it, is for us to be weaker. so, in that competition everything we are debating here is about the tactics they are using. they can't compete economically and can't necessarily compete with us militarily in terms of projecting power around the world, but when they do very intelligently is a low investment in military intervention in exchange for influence in the middle east. so he's now becoming a power broker in syria and libya and other parts of the world because he has enough airplanes and enough troops on the ground to make a difference there. he's even trying to finagle his way into the north korea talks. he wants to be a player in that. you see in europe -- there was an article yesterday about a growing number of european countries after the elections, far left and right parties coming to power potentially moving those countries closer to -- i think he went to the wedding of -- was it an austrian prime minister? is that right? or president? and also, the medical means we
are discussing. to them, it's a very low cost way of getting into -- getting into our heads and in our society, dividing us against each other. if we can finally accept the fact that we are in a sort of -- we are in a great power competition with china and in some ways, a similar competition with russia. they are not as big as china. they don't pose the same pressures as china, but nonetheless, enough. pressures as china, but nonetheless, enough. if we can wrap brains around the fact that we are in a competition and the one thing we want to do is what we did in the cold war, avoid a third world war, then we can begin to design what we do. we punish what they have done, also try to deter what they have done. it was a key component of the cold war, the fact that both parties understood the price was so high for nuclear exchange, neither party pursued it, despite a couple of close calls. it is why i, along with senator van hollen, have put out this idea of laying out ahead of time
specifically the penalties, what the price would be if putin does this again. it has to be high enough a price that he doesn't do it again. the notion is that if you know ahead of time how much it will cost, less likely to do it. i can't guarantee that he won't, but i can guarantee that if he doesn't think the rice is high enough, he will. that realm, do any of you have any views about the role that deterrence can play in terms of changing the cost-benefit analysis of vladimir putin? whate what -- he conducts he did in 2016, into 2018 and beyond. with the premise of your question and the framing of this has great power competition. deterrence is critical. when the administration went after his son-in-law, that's a clear message. it sends a strong message. i think that we could do more collectively to look at cyber
deterrence. i think there is a growing awareness that we have not done enough in that regard. but i think the tools that can be brought to our disposal to increase the message of deterrence, we are supportive of that. there is a lot in the deter act that is very positive. it moves in the right direction. there are some aspects of it that we are not comfortable with. the vesting of new mandates from -- in a single intelligence official coming from senate confirmed officials, that's problematic. as i said earlier, we take the view that national security waivers are important to the diplomacy. our team is preparing structured responses in the coming days and we look forward to engaging with you more closely. i agree overall with what you said. deterrence is critical. sen. rubio: as far as deterrence act is concerned, speaking for myself, if we want to pass it and turn it into law, there are changes we will need to make
because we want the administration to pass it. enough. to be strong senator corker: senator menendez? senator menendez: thank you, i have a few other questions. secretary billingslea, expectations among the senate was that you would continue to impose sanctions on oligarchs, but clearly, you have decided to diminish pressure. you haven't designated any oligarchs since april 6 and you have delisted estonian banks and now there are reports that you made to list -- a signal that we judge by actions but not by words, but these actions seem to be more line with an accommodating and disturbing rhetoric the president has a versus the tougher approach. any attemptare of
to delist. if anything we are pushing forward. we are, far from easing up, we continue to accelerate. if we just look at the cyber sanctions. sen. menendez: let me interrupt you for a moment. focus specifically on oligarchs, and in that respect, unless i am wrong, there has been no designation since april. you have delisted estonian banks. i am glad to hear you are not rusal, at least not attempting to. one of the elements, you don't become an oligarchy in russia must vladimir putin makes you one. at the end of the day, this is his satellite universe of people that support him. people who making money at the end of the day. i hope you will create a greater focus on that, i think it's critical to our goals here. let me also ask you, directing
questions to you, the obama administration imposed sanctions on the fsb and gru following the election. how many of those officer accounts of been frozen, do you know? sec. billingslea: i don't have that information. sen. menendez: how much money did those individuals lose as a result of any sanctions, if there are any as it relates them? sec. billingslea: i will have to take that for the record. senator menendez: secretary mitchell -- you know i have high regard for you, but it gets diminished when you do things that i think are political in nature. you mentioned the mighty river comment as relates to the previous administration in 2009. that was before crimea, that was before the invasion. that was before the obama administration levied sanctions against russia for its invasion of crimea.
that was before, when the president ultimately went ahead and that is why russia is not part of the g7 today. it is also when we became aware that russia was interfering with our elections that the did pursue sanctions against the gru and the fsb. that is why they made a commitment confirming membership of georgia. i could go through a long list. i'm not sure that that type of comparison that you attempted to make is in our collective interests at the end of the day. i do want to ask you -- the president at the helsinki press conference announced the establishment of a high-level working group to include business and economic leaders from russia and the united states. i thought it was our policy to put economic pressure on the kremlin to stop attacking our elections. it is -- its illegal occupation
of ukraine, war ties with syria. why are we promoting business ties with a regime that we are trying to severely sanction? sec. miitchell: let me respond to some of the things you said. >> i only had one question. i had of -- i have limited time, so you can respond to my one question. sec. miitchell: look, i think that what came out of helsinki, other than an agreement for the national security councils to meet was to explore the concept of two things, a business council of some kind, details to be determined, with an academic exchange of track to dartmouth type things like did during the cold war. we are assessing right now what, if anything, would be the composition or way forward on any of these. sen. menendez: it just seems counterintuitive that we are trying to affect the russian economy and then trying to create business ties. let me ask you this -- increasingly, russia provides a vital source for oil, aviation, fuel to north korea. there have been reports that at times when china slowed exports,
russia has stepped up to fill the breach. so whether it is part of a broader strategy to increase russian influence in asia or merely an effect to make missions that complicate our efforts to deal with constraints, it's clear that moscow intends to play a role in north korea and not one that is helpful. what are your thoughts on how we best deal with that? >> secretary mitchell: i agree with that characterization. look, on the one hand they are part of the u.n. security council consensus that is critical for maximum pressure. on the other hand, they appear to be working against many of the measures that they have supported in the national security council. on an would say is, ongoing basis, we are looking carefully of whether it is russian behavior on the dprk, syria, across the board we are looking on an ongoing basis at all of these things and the authorities are at our disposal to respond to it. sen. menendez: finally, congratulations, i just got notification that you have been
nominated to be the undersecretary for civilian security democracy and human rights. i will look forward to that conversation as it relates to your new role. thank you, chairman. >> thank you, senator menendez. thank you both for your testimony today. we hold lots and lots of hearings here. very seldom do we get as clear and direct answers as we have gotten from you. you are both great representatives of the united states of america and this committee sincerely appreciate your service. on behalf of the american people, thank you for that. that concludes this hearing. the record will stay open for questions for the record until 5:00 tomorrow evening. p.m. with that, committee's adjourned. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
the nomination of glen johnson, colorado, to be the assistant counsel of human services secretary. other executive and judicial nominations could be taken up by the senate later in the week. also, it is expected that individual senators will take to the floor and pay tribute to senator john mccain, who passed away at his home in arizona. live coverage of the senate on center. -- on c-span2. >> here on c-span, "newsmakers" is next with neera tanden, followed by stormy daniels' lawyer, michael avenatti. followed by what schools can do to improve safety. and on "q&a," jeffrey rosen talks about his biography on william ho t