Special Counsel Mueller And FBI Director Wray Just Confirmed We Need To Do More To Protect Our Democracy From Putin’s Interference. So Why Is Majority Leader McConnell Blocking Commonsense Election Security Legislation?July 25, 2019
Yesterday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller told the country that the Russian government is again trying to influence our elections – but instead of working to pass commonsense legislation to secure our elections, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans have buried them in their legislative graveyard. Earlier today, Senator McConnell blocked requests from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) to pass election security bills – the seventh and eighth time Republicans have blocked action on the Senate floor this year.
THIS WEEK, SPECIAL COUNSEL MUELLER AND FBI DIRECTOR CHRISTOPHER WRAY CONFIRMED PUTIN IS AGAIN TRYING TO INTERFERE IN OUR ELECTIONS – AND THAT WE ARE NOT DOING ENOUGH TO STOP THEM.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller: Russians Are Attempting To Interfere In Our Elections Right Now; “They Are Doing It While We Sit Here.”
HURD: Is this in our investigation did you think that this was a single attempt by the Russians to get involved in our election or did you find evidence that suggests they will try to do this again?
MUELLER: It wasn't a single attempt. They are doing it while we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign. [House Intelligence Committee Hearing via CQ, 7/24/19; VIDEO]
Special Counsel Mueller: “Much More Needs To Be Done In Order To Protect Against This Intrusion.”
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Are you concerned that we are not doing enough currently to prevent this from happening again?
MUELLER: I'll speak generally and what I said in my opening statement this morning, and here that no, much more needs to be done in order to protect against this intrusion. Not just by the Russians, but others as well. [House Intelligence Committee Hearing via CQ, 7/24/19; VIDEO]
FBI Director Christopher Wray: Putin “Absolutely Intent On Trying to Interfere In Our Elections.”
GRAHAM: Is Russia—are the Russians still trying to interfere in our election system?
WRAY: The Russians are—are absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections through—
GRAHAM: —Is it fair to say that—
WRAY: —through foreign influence in particular—
GRAHAM: —everything—everything we've done against Russia has not deterred them enough? All the sanctions, all the talk, they're still at it.
WRAY: Well, my view is until they stop they haven't been deterred enough.
GRAHAM: And—and they're still doing it.
WRAY: Yes. [Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing via CQ, 7/23/19; VIDEO]
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats: “We assess that foreign actors will view the 2020 US elections as an opportunity to advance their interests. We expect them to refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other’s experiences and efforts in previous elections.” [Remarks As Prepared for Delivery to Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/29/19]
INSTEAD OF WORKING TO PROTECT AND SECURE OUR ELECTIONS, REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL HAS BURIED LEGISLATION TO PROTECT OUR ELECTIONS IN HIS LEGISLATIVE GRAVEYARD.
Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO), A Member of Senator McConnell’s Leadership Team, Openly Blamed McConnell for His Refusal to Markup Election Security Bills.
DURBIN: There’s a number of bills that are pending before congress, I think some of them before this committee, on the subject of election integrity. Mr. Chairman, I wasn’t here at the beginning – are we going to be marking up any of those bills on election security?
BLUNT: It was not a topic of discussion today but at this point I don’t see any likelihood that those bills would get to the floor if we marked them up.
BLUNT: Same reason we couldn’t get our bill to the floor last year.
DURBIN: Which is?
BLUNT: I think the majority leader just is of the view that this debate reaches no conclusion and frankly I think the extreme nature of HB1 – of HR1 from the House even makes it less likely that we’re going to have that debate. [Senate Rules Committee Hearing, 5/15/19; VIDEO]
NYT: McConnell Called House-Passed Election Security Bill “Nonstarter,” Effectively Burying It In His Legislative Graveyard. “In a brief interview on Thursday, Mr. McConnell called the House bill a ‘nonstarter’ in the Senate. The bill, the Securing America’s Federal Elections Act, would set new federal standards for vendors and operators of voting systems that most security experts argue will significantly limit the risk of foreign intrusions.” [New York Times, 6/27/19]
SENATE REPUBLICANS ARE FOLLOWING MCCONNELL’S LEAD, BLOCKING COMMONSENSE ELECTION SECURITY LEGISLATION ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE.
Senator McConnell blocked Senator Schumer (D-NY) from bringing up H.R. 2722, the House-passed Securing America’s Federal Elections Act, which would provide states with resources to modernize their election infrastructure, require paper ballots, and require post-election audits to ensure election integrity. [Floor Remarks, 7/25/19; VIDEO]
Senate Republicans including Senator McConnell have three times blocked Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) from bringing up S. 1247, the Duty to Report Act, which would require campaigns to report offers of illegal foreign assistance to the FBI. On the Senate floor, Sen. Hyde Smith (R-MS) and Senator McConnell have offered no explanation of why they objected to this bill. [Congressional Record, 6/25/19; Congressional Record, 7/24/19; VIDEO; Congressional Record, 7/25/19; VIDEO]
Senate Republicans repeatedly blocked Senator Warner (D-VA) from bringing up S. 1562/S.2242, the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections (FIRE) Act, which would require any presidential campaign that receives offers of assistance from an agent of a foreign government to notify the FBI about it. On the Senate floor, Sen. Hyde Smith (R-MS) offered no explanation of why she objected to this bill. [Congressional Record, 6/13/19; VIDEO; Congressional Record, 7/24/19; VIDEO]
Senate Republicans blocked Senator Klobuchar (D-MN) from bringing up S. 1540, the Election Security Act, which would provide $1 billion in election security grants to states for cybersecurity improvements and audits and require the president to issue a new national security strategy to protect our institutions. [Congressional Record, 6/25/19; VIDEO]
Senate Republicans blocked Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) from bringing up S. 890, the Senate Cybersecurity Protection Act, which would offer voluntary assistance for Senators and some Senate staff to secure their personal devices and accounts against foreign hackers. On the Senate floor, Sen. Hyde Smith (R-MS) offered no explanation of why she objected to this bill. [Congressional Record, 7/24/19; VIDEO]
UNFORTUNATELY THIS IS NOT NEW – SENATOR MCCONNELL HAS REPEATEDLY REFUSED TO STAND UP TO RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE IN OUR ELECTIONS.
Washington Post: In 2016, Sen. McConnell Challenged Effort To Alert Public To Threat Of Russian Election Hacking. “In September, during a secret briefing for congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced doubts about the veracity of the intelligence, according to officials present.” … “According to several officials, McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.” [Washington Post, 12/9/16]
NYT: Republicans Block Anti-Putin Resolutions Before Senate Approves One Rebuke “In the Senate, Republicans objected to two nonbinding measures that would have put the body on record as being in support of intelligence agency conclusions that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, called on Mr. Trump to fully impose sanctions against Russia and pressed for oversight of the summit meeting, including the production of any notes taken by Americans.” [New York Times, 7/19/18]
Politico: GOP Blocks Senate Rebuke Of Trump On Russia Sanctions. “A bipartisan attempt to condemn the Trump administration for relaxing Russia sanctions stalled in the Senate Wednesday after Republicans banded together to block the effort. The bill would have formally rebuked the administration before it moves ahead with plans to lift sanctions on companies linked to oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.” [Politico, 1/16/19]
Politico: McConnell Downplays Trump's Foreign Election Help Comments. “President Donald Trump's comments on accepting foreign dirt in 2020 may have put some distance between him and Republicans in Congress. But seemingly not with Mitch McConnell. Speaking with Fox News' Laura Ingraham on Thursday night, the Senate majority leader spoke with exasperation over the backlash the president has received for saying he would hear out foreign assistance if offered in the 2020 election. McConnell portrayed the comments as a non-story, saying Congress had legislative agendas to focus on. ‘They just can't let it go, Laura,’ McConnell said. ‘I said weeks ago, case closed. We got the Mueller report, the only objective evaluation that will be conducted.’” [Politico, 6/13/19]