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McConnell Blocks Election Security Bill Despite Mueller’s Ominous Warnings

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

“Mueller’s testimony should be a wake-up call to every American, Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, that the integrity of our elections is at stake.”

Despite special counsel Robert Mueller’s warnings of future election interference during his daylong congressional testimony on Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked four proposals to enforce election security within 24 hours of the special counsel’s testimony.

“It wasn’t a single attempt. They’re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign,” Mueller said of Russia. “Much more needs to be done in order to protect against these intrusions—not just by the Russians, but others as well.”

While political commentators broadly agreed that Mueller was restrained when questioned on the Trump administration’s obstruction of justice in the morning session, his position on Russian election interference was emphatically clear.

“We are expecting them to do it again during the next campaign,” said Mueller. The special counsel also said that “many more countries are developing capabilities to replicate” what Russia did in 2016.

Hyde-Smith, McConnell Block Senate Bills

Despite Mueller’s statements, Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith blocked two bills aimed at bolstering election security on Wednesday evening without giving a reason. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected similar two bills on Thursday, one of which would increase funding for the Election Assistance Commission and demand the use of paper ballots. The bill, which passed the House 225-184 with only one Republican voting for it, led McConnell to claim Democrats were seeking a “political benefit.”

“Clearly this request is not a serious effort to make a law. Clearly something so partisan that it only received one single solitary Republican vote in the House is not going to travel through the Senate by unanimous consent,” McConnell said. McConnell also said he felt the bill was discredited because it came from the “same folks who hyped up a conspiracy theory” about Trump-Russia collusion.

The other bill, also rejected by McConnell, would have required campaigns to inform the FBI about offers for assistance from foreign actors.

According to The Hill, Schumer said that if McConnell didn’t like the current proposals they could negotiate new ones. “Let’s put another bill on the floor and debate it,” said the minority leader, to which McConnell did not respond.

“The Republican leader has already indicated his intention to bury this bill in the legislative graveyard,” said Schumer.

While U.S. law currently forbids campaigns from accepting foreign assistance, President Trump has repeatedly expressed willingness to receive foreign intelligence on his political opponents.

Mueller Hearing

During the afternoon session on Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff asked Mueller whether it was accurate to say that Trump campaign officials “built their strategy, their messaging strategy, around those stolen documents,” in reference to the documents hacked by the Russians and released by WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

“Generally, that’s true,” Mueller replied.

“And then they lied to cover it up?”

“Generally, that’s true,” answered Mueller.

Later in the testimony, Schiff summarized his perspective on Mueller’s findings: “Your work tells of a campaign so determined to conceal their corrupt use of foreign help that they risked going to jail by lying to you, to the FBI and to Congress about it and, indeed, some have gone to jail over such lies.”

Alternatively, Trump lambasted reporters as “fake news” during questioning after Mueller’s testimony on Wednesday, saying, “WikiLeaks is a hoax just like everything else,” despite the fact that he praised the organization multiple times in 2016.

“If you listen to the internet, this was one of the worst performances in the history of our country,” the president said. “It was a fake set of facts that the Democrats used, and others, to try and do really an illegal overthrow, but we’re going find out about that.”

“Mueller’s testimony was a clarion call for election security,” argued Sen. Schumer. “Mueller’s testimony should be a wake-up call to every American, Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, that the integrity of our elections is at stake. … This is all about the future of this country,”

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Latin America to gain firsthand insight in some of the world’s most troubled areas, and he plans on publishing his first book in 2019.

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