State Department says President Trump has been "very tough on Russia"

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (WWMT/Nick Minock)

WASHINGTON D.C. (SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP) -- Several members of Congress are calling on the Trump Administration to slap stronger sanctions on Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. Elections.

On Monday, the country saw news headlines that read "Donald Trump is soft on Russia."

Political Reporter Nick Minock spoke with the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's spokesperson at the White House Wednesday.

State Department spokesperson, Heather Nauert, says the media got the story wrong on Monday.

"We have have been very tough on Russia," Nauert told Minock,

Tilleron's spokesperson says national news outlets didn't tell the whole story when it was reported the Trump Administration is not implementing new sanctions on Russia.

"No, that is not the full story at all! Nauert said. "The United State's government has imposed sanctions on Russian individuals, Russian companies, on Russian entities and we continue to maintain our ability to do so. Now one of the good things is we've been able to prevent at least $3 billion worth of deals worth of money going into Russian coffers."

She says the administration may slap sanctions on Russian industry that funnels money into its defense sector, a move that is being considered as Congress looks at how Russia influenced the 2016 U.S. Elections.

"Russia meddled in the U.S. Elections and they are doing that in other countries as well," said Nauert. "We know that."

Nauert describes the President's relationship with Russia as "tense."

Another ongoing "tense" relationship is with North Korea -- which Nauert said is the President's top national security priority. She says the U.S. is trying to prevent money from going into North Korean coffers.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters is also taking North Korea seriously. The Michigan Democrat is calling for a more stable approach in funding the U.S. Defense Department.

"Unfortunately, here in the Senate, we've had these short term spending bills that go two to three weeks," Peters said. "No organization in America can operate two to three weeks at a time. In fact, Secretary of Defense Mattis came before our caucus and said stop passing these short term CR's, it's putting our national security in jeopardy. We need a long term funding bill that I certainly hope we are able to come together to make that happen. We can't keep dealing with these short term bills."

Minock also asked the State Department about why President Trump is opening the door for new prisons to be opened on Guantanamo Bay. The answer: The President wants to put the security and safety of Americans first. The State Department says this is one way of doing that.

Tune into Newschannel 3 live at 6 p.m. Thursday as Political Reporter Nick Minock talks with U.S. Secretary of Education and West Michigan native Betsy Devos about the Larry Nassar abuse scandal at Michigan State University.

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