McConnell Urges Seriousness and Unity on Election Security, Not Partisan Cherry-Picking
‘This week, officials from the Intelligence Community, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security will brief us on foreign efforts to influence our politics and elections, and how the Administration is defending us… “Foreign adversaries have long sought to interfere in our politics and elections. It didn’t start in 2016 and it won’t end in 2020.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding election security:
“This week, officials from the Intelligence Community, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security will brief us on foreign efforts to influence our politics and elections, and how the Administration is defending us.
“Every one of our colleagues should attend one of these sessions.
“Sharing sensitive threat information with Congress is just one of the ways this Administration has outperformed its predecessor. The Intelligence Community has kept Congress much more closely informed about these threats in 2018 and 2020 than it did in the run-up to 2016.
“I’m sure these briefings will contain details that might seem ripe for cherry-picking and partisan leaks from both sides.
“But it is essential that Congress remain a place where the word classified actually means something.
“Leaking intelligence jeopardizes sources and methods. And if we’ve learned anything from studying Russian interference in 2016, it’s that our adversaries’ ultimate objective is to leave America more divided and less confident in our institutions.
“Members of Congress must take special care not to do Putin’s work for him.
“Foreign adversaries have long sought to interfere in our politics and elections. It didn’t start in 2016 and it won’t end in 2020.
“But this Administration has put us in a far better position than in 2016. There’s simply no comparison.
“The Intelligence Community is better aware of the threat. Government agencies are more transparent — with Congress, the state and local jurisdictions that actually run elections, the private sector, and the public.
“In 2016, the Obama-Biden Administration had to lean on Congressional leadership to act as a bridge to the states, because the states so distrusted their Department of Homeland Security. Over the last 4 years, this Administration’s DHS has developed its own deep relationships with state officials.
“In 2016, only 14 state or local jurisdictions had received high-tech “ALBERT sensors” to alert them to cyber intrusions. Today, they’re deployed in all 50 states.
“It was this Administration that stood up the new Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center, with participation from more than 2,600 local jurisdictions and counting.
“This Administration has imposed real, hard costs on election interference and Russia’s other misdeeds: Shuttering the Kremlin’s consulates in San Francisco and Seattle, kicking out intelligence officers, sanctioning oligarchs, helping European partners defend their own elections against Russia, and sending weapons to Ukraine and Georgia which the Obama-Biden Administration did not supply.
“This Administration has also confronted China for what the State Department described as “massive espionage and influence operations”, including closing Beijing’s consulate in Houston.
“As the Democratic Vice Chairman on the Senate Intelligence Committee has stated, in 2016, quote, “we were caught flat-footed.” Not anymore.
“Congress has provided more than $800 million for states and localities to shore up election security and have passed a number of targeted new laws.
“And since foreign political interference is so often aimed at private-sector platforms — like social media sites — we’ve encouraged those businesses to step up vigilance as well.
“Through all this, we’ve also carefully avoided things that look like quick fixes but which would undermine our own institutions.
“In the United States of America it is states and localities, not the feds, who run elections. Period. And our lack of a one-size-fits-all national system isn’t just constitutionally appropriate; it also acts as a further safeguard. We lack a single point of failure.
“So in closing, I urge all our colleagues to attend these important briefings with an eye toward our real adversaries — not our fellow Americans, but the foreign agents who love to see us at one another’s throats.
“Back during the impeachment trial, a leading House Democrat asserted that if President Trump wins re-election, the people’s vote would be presumptively invalid.
“Just a few days ago, it was reported, a leading Democrat strategist who was war-gaming this election decided to experiment with what would happen if Vice President Biden lost the election but simply failed to concede!
“Once again — this kind of recklessness achieves our adversaries’ missions for them. So I urge my colleagues to listen to the civil servants who are defending our democracy. Let’s stay united, focus on the real dangers posed by foreign interference, and resist the urge to politicize these vital subjects.”
Related Issues: National Security