WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced on Thursday new sanctions in response to meddling in U.S. elections imposed against three Russians and, separately, a Ukrainian lawmaker who worked with Rudy Giuliani.
The Treasury Department, in announcing the sanctions, said that Ukrainian lawmaker, Andrii Derkach, “has been an active Russian agent for over a decade.” Derkach worked with Giuliani, who serves as a private attorney to President Donald Trump, to smear Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
Derkach called the sanctions an act of "revenge" by the U.S. and an attempt to stop him from revealing more information about "Democratic corruption," which he pledged to do next week.
Derkach was the only person identified by name in last month’s U.S. intelligence community update on ongoing election-meddling. In that update, Bill Evanina, the top U.S. counterintelligence official, said Derkach was "is spreading claims about corruption — including through publicizing leaked phone calls — to undermine former Vice President Biden's candidacy and the Democratic Party."
On Thursday, the Treasury Department said that “between May and July 2020, Derkach released edited audio tapes and other unsupported information with the intent to discredit U.S. officials, and he levied unsubstantiated allegations against U.S. and international political figures.”
Treasury referenced audiotapes of a conversation between then-Vice President Biden and then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that Derkach obtained and released earlier this year. Derkach is also sent packets of information related to the Bidens to Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and other Republican offices on Capitol Hill.
Derkach, a pro-Russian lawmaker in Ukraine who studies at a Russian spy academy, has met repeatedly with Giuliani, including during Giuliani’s trip to Ukraine in late 2019, as they both worked to dig up damaging information about the Bidens. Derkach has multiple held news conferences to make corruption allegations about the Bidens that he has failed to back up with evidence.
"At the beginning of next week, I will go to a press conference with new, shocking facts about the exposure of Democratic corruption," Derkach said in a statement in Ukrainian. "It is because of the leakage of information about the upcoming press conference that information about the sanctions was released today."
He said the Treasury's actions also provide him "the opportunity for me to defend my interests in the legal field: in court."
The other three hit with sanctions are Russian nationals who Treasury says facilitated cryptocurrency operations for the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm whose financier was indicted by Robert Mueller for efforts to interfere in 2016.
The sanctions freeze any assets the individuals may have in the United States and bars Americans from doing business with them.
Democratic lawmakers including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., welcomed the move while describing it as overdue. They pointed out that Democrats have for months accused Derkach of funneling Russian disinformation to Senate committees investigating the Bidens and Ukraine.
"Senate Republicans should be very careful about Russian agents like Derkach and his reported efforts to launder disinformation through Congress to interfere in our elections," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.