In a closed-door session on Capitol Hill Wednesday, various Trump administration officials — including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, FBI Director Christopher Wray and others — outlined “active threats” to the upcoming election. Members of both parties called the meeting informative and stressed the importance of remaining vigilant against Russian intervention.
This isn’t our first indication of Russia’s intent to interfere in the 2020 election — the FBI has issued multiple warnings including in April, when the bureau stepped up its counterintelligence efforts aimed at protecting American elections from Russian involvement.
There aren’t a lack of ideas for strengthening the systems America relies on to ensure an accurate and fair vote — a Stanford report offered 45 possible courses of action — but America simply refuses to pursue those ideas.
But efforts to rebuff these interventions have gained little ground over the years. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has led a strong opposition to measures to strengthen America’s electoral system against foreign actors, and Congressional Republicans even tried to weaken election defenses in 2018.
McConnell has characterized the 2018 election as “smooth and secure,” despite a massive alleged conspiracy to erode American trust in democratic institutions and sow discord among the American people. Russia was joined by China and Iran, among others, in influence activities designed to manipulate the result in 2018. More tangibly, the National Republican Congressional Committee was hacked and monitored for months by Russian operatives in advance of the 2018 midterms.
“We know that nefarious foreign and domestic actors continue to meddle in our democratic systems, and we’ve been put on notice that previous efforts were only trial runs presumably for our next election in 2020,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-California), chief sponsor of an election security bill in the House that has virtually no chance of passing through McConnell’s senate.
Though Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said America “would not tolerate” continued attacks on its electoral system form Russia, experts continue to warn that the United States is not doing enough to prevent further election interventionism from foreign powers.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.