Despite warnings from FBI Director Christopher Wray that Russia is actively interfering with the 2020 presidential election through information warfare, Senate Republicans rejected a trio of bills aimed at election security.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., blocked each of the bills, claiming the legislation was an attempt by Democrats to rest control over elections “in the hands of Washington, D.C., bureaucrats.”
The Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., would require states to use paper ballots as backup and mandate post-election audits as well as establish a set of election system cybersecurity standards at the federal level.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., advocated for the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections (FIRE) Act, under which campaigns would have to report attempts by foreign entities to influence the elections. The Duty to Report Act, introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., would mandate similar reporting requirements.
“America is 266 days away from the 2020 election, and Majority Leader [Sen. Mitch] McConnell, D-Ky., has yet to take any concrete steps to protect our …elections from hacking or foreign interference,” Wyden said.
That is all the more troubling, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said, after months-long impeachment proceedings against President Trump that centered on whether president sought foreign assistance for the 2020 election. “The current president of the United States, far from having the same fears about foreign interference as our founders, has been very public about his openness to foreign assistance and manipulation in support of his election,” he said. “The president was just impeached over this issue, and the Senate just concluded a trial in which it appeared a bipartisan majority of senators broadly accepted the fact that the president leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars of military assistance to Ukraine to compel its government to investigate one of his political rivals.”
In a 2018 interview with ABC News political correspondent George Stephanopoulos, Trump said he might entertain information from advantageous to his campaign from a foreign actor and may or may not report it to the FBI or election authorities.
“The appropriate response is not to say thank you, the appropriate response is to call the FBI,” said Warner.