Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks to reporters after giving a classified briefing to members of the House of Representatives, telling them that the Trump administration will keep strict U.S. sanctions on the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Latest: Senator to force vote on Russian oligarch

January 13, 2019 - 12:08 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and the Russia investigation (all times local):

12 p.m.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says he'll force a vote in the coming days on the Treasury Department's decision to ease sanctions on three companies connected to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has defended the decision, saying the companies are undergoing a major restructuring to "sever Deripaska's control and significantly diminish his ownership." He says Deripaska himself and any companies he controls remain under sanctions.

Schumer, however, contends the Russian oligarch maintains significant influence on these companies, including the aluminum manufacturing giant Rusal.

Schumer says it's important the sanctions remain in place while the special counsel's Russia investigation proceeds. Deripaska has figured into the investigation due to his ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

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10:25 a.m.

The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee has disputed President Donald Trump's claim that he's been tougher on Russia than any recent president.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia says almost all of the sanctions on Russia arose in Congress because of huge concerns by both parties about Russia's actions.

Speaking Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Warner accused the Trump White House of being slow to implement the sanctions.

Trump most recently made the claim following a published report that his behavior in the early months of his presidency gave federal law enforcement officials reason to begin investigating whether he had worked for Russia against American interests.

In Saturday's interview, Trump avoided giving a direct answer when asked if he currently is or has ever worked for Russia.

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9 a.m.

President Donald Trump has avoided giving a direct answer when asked if he currently is or has ever worked for Russia after a published report said his behavior gave federal law enforcement officials reason to begin investigating whether he had worked for the U.S. adversary.

The New York Times reported that Trump's behavior in the days around his firing of James Comey as FBI director helped trigger the counterintelligence part of the investigation. The report Friday cited unnamed former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.

Trump responded to the report Saturday during a telephone interview broadcast on Fox News Channel after host Jeanine Pirro asked whether he is currently or has ever worked for Russia.

He said: "I think it's the most insulting thing I've ever been asked."

Trump never answered Pirro's question directly.

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