Sen. Blumenthal Pushes Bill To Protect Elections From Foreign Interference

June 26, 2019 - 2:58 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — As the U.S. prepares for debate season, there’s a renewed call to protect federal elections from foreign interference.

In an interview with WCBS 880’s Steve Scott, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal explained that the “Securing America’s Elections Act” looks to “protect us from the king of attack – and it was a sweeping and systematic attack documented by special counsel Robert Mueller – by the Russians in 2016.”

“Our proposal – which is a legislation that’s bipartisan, supported by Republican senators like (Sen. James Lankford) of Oklahoma and (Sen. Lindsey Graham) of South Carolina – would essentially, number 1, provide for fuller disclosure for all online political ads,” Blumenthal said. “It would safeguard ballots by requiring and funding paper ballots in state. It would mandate retaliatory sanctions if the director of national intelligence determines that a foreign government has interfered in a federal election.”

He adds that it would also secure federal elections against cyber-attacks and prevent an abuse of misinformation online and on social media.

The Connecticut Democrat notes that it’s crucial the measure passes before the 2020 presidential election, as he fears there is a genuine threat of foreign interference.

“The director of the FBI has said that it is going to be a major problem. All of the intelligence community is warning. The yellow lights are flashing. We know that (Russians) are likely to do again what they did before, except at a bigger scale, and that's why foreign interference in our election is going to happen again unless we take measures to secure election,” he said.

When asked if he felt he had enough support to pass the measure in the Senate, he notes that there is a large number of Republicans and Democrats that are eager to pass the legislation. However, the measure faces a challenge from Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell who has refused to bring the bill up for a vote.

Meanwhile, he has no way to predict how President Donald Trump might react should the bill ever arrive in the Oval Office.

“The president, interestingly, continues to deny that the Russians attacked our democracy,” the senator said. “He may have access to the best information with the worst appreciation of how we are in danger.”

Blumenthal hopes that provisions such as funding for paper ballots and public disclosure will convince Trump to sign the bill into law.