September 11, 2020

Cardin Statement on Senate Republicans’ Continued Failure to Act on Election Security

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, today released the following statement on Senate Republicans’ continued inaction to improve the security of elections, despite overwhelming evidence that such steps are necessary.

“It is unconscionable that the Republican-led Senate is not doing more to protect the security of our elections. This week we have learned that Russia not only penetrated our voting rolls in 2016, but actively placed malware capable of deleting votes on voting machines in at least two Florida counties. This suggests that Russia was preparing to do more than simply better target its well-documented disinformation campaigns.

“This week we also learned that the Department of the Treasury has designated Andriy Derkach, a pro-Russian Ukrainian promoting discredited allegations against Joe Biden, for sanctions related to foreign interference in the U.S. election. Derkach met with President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine at least as recently December 2019, as Giuliani mounted an effort to obtain derogatory information on Biden's relationships in Ukraine. On Thursday, the administration went even further in tying Derkach to the Kremlin. ‘Derkach … has been an active Russian agent for over a decade, maintaining close connections with the Russian Intelligence Services,’ Treasury outlined. ‘Derkach has directly or indirectly engaged in, sponsored, concealed, or otherwise been complicit in foreign interference in an attempt to undermine the upcoming 2020 U.S. presidential election.’

“Atop these affronts to our democracy, a senior Department of Homeland Security official this week was compelled to file a whistleblower complaint after top officials with the agency directed analysts to downplay threats from violent white supremacists and Russian election interference. In his complaint, the whistleblower detailed that he was ordered by the Trump-appointed acting head of the agency to stop producing assessments on Russian interference because ‘it made the president look bad.’ These revelations, which significantly threaten our national security, represent both an appalling abuse of the agency’s mission and the public’s trust.

“Taken together, this week’s developments should be a clear alarm that urgent action is necessary to protect this November’s elections. Yet Republicans in the United States Senate continue to sit by idly and merely spectate, ignoring their oversight responsibilities and the continued corrosion of the very things that make our country great. At a minimum, Leader McConnell must bring forward for votes the several House-passed election security measures his caucus have blocked for months.  Leader McConnell should also have the courage to bring forward the numerous measures introduced by my Senate colleagues that would compel any campaign that is approached by foreign powers to report it to federal authorities; to provide funding for the modernization of our voting systems; and to ban our voting machines from being manufactured in foreign countries. These steps could go a long way to ensuring the fairness of our elections and restoring Americans’ faith in our democracy.

“Yet Republican leaders still will not bring forward any of these measures for a vote. This illustrates both their failure to lead and their contempt for the most basic functions of our democracy, neither of which should be allowed to continue.”   

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