It appears that the only major politician in Washington, D.C. to shrug off the overwhelming evidence that the Russian government directed a massive scheme to disrupt U.S. elections in 2016 to aid then-candidate Donald Trump is now the president of the United States.
Despite findings by U.S. intelligence agencies, Trump publicly stated during a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in 2018 that he generally believed Putin’s denial of such interference.
This year, the Washington Post reported that Trump told Russian officials in a 2017 White House meeting that he “was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
Trump now is being accused of seeking foreign interference from Ukraine to investigate Democrats to benefit his re-election.
The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed in a bipartisan report this month that it was Russia that interfered in 2016, recommending that the public be made aware of “the danger of attempted foreign interference in the 2020 election.”
There was bipartisan approval in Congress for harsh sanctions on Russia for the 2016 cyber attacks and new sanctions this fall for 2018 mid-term election interference.
Yet, the Republican-led Senate has blocked several bills from the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives to better secure voting equipment and help stop more Russian social media disruption campaigns.
The Senate has declined to even considering voting on most of the bills.
The Federal Election Commission by this fall had dwindled from its traditional six members to three, which is not enough for a four-person quorum required to officially act on election matters. The U.S. Senate has declined to approve replacements to the bipartisan commission.
Before Republican FEC member Matthew Peterson resigned, he and another Republican commissioner are accused of stopping the investigation of allegations that Russian operators might have funneled money through the National Rifle Association to support Trump’s campaign.
“The FEC’s Republican commissioners blocked the commission from enforcing a complaint alleging a serious threat to our country’s democracy,” was the written response of FEC Chair Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat.
“It is absolutely illegal for anyone to solicit, accept or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with any election in the United States,” Weintraub later told MSNBC, including.
That includes, she added, “opposition research.”
Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas apparently agrees.
He said “of course not” when asked on CBS’ “Face the Nation” this month if it was okay that Trump suggested that China investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his family.
“Elections in the U.S. should be decided by Americans, and it’s not the business of foreign countries, any foreign countries, to be interfering in our elections,” Cruz said.
The absence of a fully functioning FEC and enough new laws to stop foreign election intervention in 2020 does not bode well for the integrity of the electoral system.
However, this month’s Senate committee’s bipartisan findings suggest there might be enough Republican support to resolve these issues before next year.