Blue Dogs Call For Fast, Bipartisan Action on Russia Election Meddling Reports
The Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats on Friday called for the immediate passage of bipartisan legislation safeguarding the nation’s elections in the wake of a New York Times report Russia is meddling in the 2020 race to assure President Donald Trump’s re-election.
The report, based on interviews with multiple sources, said the House Intelligence Committee was informed of the election meddling during a confidential briefing on Feb. 13.
“If the intelligence was indeed presented as the New York Times reports, the fact that any foreign country is meddling in any U.S. election in support of any candidate, Democrat or Republican, should alarm both parties,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a former national security specialist and the Blue Dog co-chair for Administration.
“Last summer, the Blue Dogs called on Congress to pass the most hard-hitting measures ever imposed against Russia in retaliation to its attempts to meddle in the 2016 and 2018 elections and pursue aggressive policies to deter future interference attempts by Russia and other adversaries, including China, Iran, and North Korea,” the Florida Democrat said.
“If the press reports are true, Congress can and should immediately pass these bipartisan measures to send a clear message to the world: if you mess with the United States, there will be swift and severe consequences,” Murphy said.
Trump on Friday sought to tamp down on the Times report, reviving claims that Democrats are seeking to undermine his legitimacy.
“Another misinformation campaign is being launched by Democrats in Congress saying that Russia prefers me to any of the Do Nothing Democrat candidates who still have been unable to, after two weeks, count their votes in Iowa. Hoax number 7!” Trump tweeted.
The fresh intelligence warnings about Russian interference came in what has been a tumultuous stretch for the intelligence community.
A day after the briefing to the Intelligence Committee, Trump reportedly berated the acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, in a meeting at the White House.
Then this week, Trump abruptly announced that Maguire would be replaced by Richard Grenell, a Trump loyalist who will hold the job in an acting capacity.
Trump tweeted Friday that he was considering four candidates to serve as permanent intel director and expected to make a decision within the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, the installation of Grenell, even in a temporary role, has raised questions among critics about whether Trump is more interested in having a loyalist instead of someone steeped in the complicated inner workings of international intelligence.
In June 2019, the Blue Dogs released a package of legislative proposals in response to the conclusions presented in Volume I of the Mueller Report regarding Russia’s attack against the U.S. political system and attempts to interfere in the 2016 election.
The solutions are based primarily on a set of 11 bills endorsed by the Coalition which have earned bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. Two of those bills, S. 1060, Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act of 2019 and S. 482, Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression (DASKA) Act of 2019, would enact aggressive policies to deter adversaries from meddling in U.S. elections and impose further sanctions against Russia for its actions in the 2016 and 2018 elections.
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