How Mitch McConnell is making sure that Russia knows it's welcome to screw with the 2020 election
Back in May, Mitch McConnell passed a milestone: over 100 pieces of legislation that were passed by the Democratic-controlled House have been halted by the Senate majority leader before they ever got a vote. McConnell bragged about turning the Senate into a legislative cemetery, and he’s being a good crypt-keeper by making sure that even the most critical bills are dead on arrival.
That includes sorely needed legislation that would provide election security for 2020. As The New York Times reports, McConnell is blocking any vote on a bill that would provide funds to secure state and local election facilities against exactly the sort of attack that Russia carried out successfully in 2016. McConnell is also blocking legislation designed to force companies such as Facebook and Twitter to be more transparent about the sources of political ads.
McConnell is protecting Russia’s hacking. McConnell is protecting Russia’s social media campaign.
What else could McConnell do to grease the skids for more Kremlin interference? Well, he could make it harder to conduct a quick response when hacking or other interference is detected. And he has. In fact, McConnell has told Republican senators that he absolutely does not intend to address concerns about campaign security. Even though other Republicans seem to be worried that failing to do something about security for 2020 might make the party seem weak, McConnell is steadfast … about actually being weak.
It’s almost as if McConnell’s 2016 performance, during which he refused to sign on to a bipartisan condemnation of Russian interference and threatened President Obama with accusations that he was meddling in the election should the administration speak out more forcefully, was just a cover for genuinely wanting Russia’s thumb on the scale. No, wait. It’s exactly like that.
In 2016, McConnell did sign on to a bipartisan letter demanding legislation aimed at improving security. But now that the exact bill that letter described is sitting on his desk, he’s not routing it anywhere but to the circular file.
Republicans are trying to cobble together a defense of McConnell’s position around the idea that the bill gathering dust would only “federalize” the election process. Except it doesn’t. It explicitly provides funding to state and local facilities for their use in beefing up security.
According to McConnell, the U.S. is already doing enough. Forget that letter he signed.
He still likes to talk about security, as in May, when he gave a speech about how, thanks to Donald Trump’s leadership, “all 50 states and more than 1,400 local election jurisdictions focused on election security like never before.” That may even be true. If it is, what they’re focused on is that they are not ready, that they are not funded, and that they are vulnerable to the same sorts of attacks that were launched in 2016.
Thanks to the crypt-keeper.