Tag Archives: Russian election interference

It Isn’t Just “Moscow Mitch”

Dan Coats–the last remaining adult in the Trump Administration–has been on thin ice with Trump for a long time. After all, he refused to tailor Intelligence reports to Trump’s fantasies. Perhaps the timing of his departure would have been the same in any event, but I found it intriguing that his “resignation” was announced almost immediately after the announcement that he was creating a new position dedicated to election security.

As a patriotic Republican, Coats was vastly outnumbered.

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, blocked a bill authored by Sen. Mark Warner that would have required campaigns to report foreign offers of assistance to the FBI. As the Tennesseean reported,

The bill from Warner, D-Va., known as the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections Act, required unanimous consent in order to move forward, meaning that Blackburn’s decision to object stopped the legislation in its tracks.

The GOP as a whole has refused all efforts to implement security measures to protect the 2020 election against Russian hacking. Mitch McConnell (aka the most evil man in America) has quashed all legislative efforts to protect the franchise–leading frustrated observers to dub him “Moscow Mitch.”

As the Washington Post reported,

As President Trump’s own FBI director warns that Russians are planning to try to undermine American democracy in the next presidential election, Republican lawmakers led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) are blocking bills aimed at blocking foreign hackers from states’ voting systems.

The obvious question is: why? Why would American lawmakers refuse to protect America’s election system?

McConnell justifies his refusal to move the legislation forward with claims that the federal government is already working with states to address election interference, and that additional legislation would be “too heavy-handed,” since elections are run by the states.

Right. It’s all about states’ rights…..

The New Republic has a different theory.  It says this is another case of “follow the money”– that the GOP’s real reason for blocking security measures is financial.

The entire suite of Democratic proposals to improve election security are of course a nonstarter in a Republican-run government, and not just because Republicans have chosen to strategically believe or disbelieve in Russian election interference depending on the president’s moods and ever-shifting statements. Many of the Democratic proposals involve barring candidates and people associated with campaigns and political committees from receiving contributions, monetary and otherwise, from foreign nationals, and Republicans principally oppose most attempts to interfere in any form of influence-peddling.

Monetary influence-peddling comes in many forms. Newsweek recently reported that a Russian oligarch is funding a major factory in Kentucky, where Mitch’s re-election campaign is contending with his 36% approval rating.

Rusal, the aluminum company partially owned by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, announced plans to invest around $200 million to build a new aluminum plant in Kentucky just months after the Trump administration removed it from the U.S. sanctions list.

The new aluminum plant, slated to be built in the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will be the biggest new aluminum plant constructed in the U.S. in decades. Rusal will have a 40 percent stake in the facility.

McConnell reacted angrily to Dana Milbank’s column characterizing him as a “Russian asset.” (Andy Borowitz–who, like other satirists, has found the Trump administration a bonanza–countered with a column headlined “Putin denies McConnell is a Russian asset–says he’s never been an asset to any country.”) Milbank was blunt–and accurate:

This doesn’t mean he’s a spy, but neither is it a flip accusation. Russia attacked our country in 2016. It is attacking us today. Its attacks will intensify in 2020. Yet each time we try to raise our defenses to repel the attack, McConnell, the Senate majority leader, blocks us from defending ourselves.

We can speculate about McConnell’s motives, but one thing is clear: Mueller, Coats, the head of the FBI and numerous other officials have warned emphatically about Russian interference. They have characterized it as ongoing, sophisticated, and effective.

And far from working to avert that interference, the Republicans–led by Moscow Mitch– are facilitating it.