>> The US is gearing up to slap sanctions on Russian oligarchs, in what could be the sharpest payback yet for Moscow's alleged meddling in the 2016 elections. National Security reporter, Jonathan Landay.>> The sanctions are meant to convey further punishment by Washington of Russia's interference in the presidential election.
What makes these different is that they are expected to target members of Russia's business elite, the so-called oligarchs.>> The move expected this week would likely hit people close to President Vladimir Putin, with whom President Donald Trump has sought closer ties. Sources tell Reuters the sanctions will be imposed under a law passed overwhelmingly by Congress months ago, demanding tough action.
>> Trump has been criticized, including by members of his own party, for delaying the imposition of the sanctions that were required by this legislation that was passed by Congress last year.>> In January, the Treasury Department released a list of potential targets close to Putin, including oligarchs Alexei Miller, the head of Gazprom, and Igor Sechin of Rosneft.
But Trump took no immediate action. Sanctions last month on 19 people and Russia's intelligence services left Putin's circle of oligarchs all but untouched. Last week, Trump expelled 60 Russian diplomats in response to the UK nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter.>> Germany did 4, France did 4, we did 60, there's nobody been tougher on Russia.
>> The expected sanctions come amid reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller in an unusual move has questioned visiting oligarchs on whether money flowed from Moscow during the 2016 race.