WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of the lead authors of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) and its precursor Counteracting Russian Hostilities Act of 2017, issued the following statement on the indictment of Russians and Russian entities for their illegal efforts to interfere in the lead up to and during the 2016 presidential election.
“American intelligence officials have long been united in their judgment that Russians interfered in our elections in 2016. The Department of Justice has now put before a grand jury painstaking details of what they did, how they did it and who they tried to influence. The allegations announced today of ‘information warfare against the United States’ with the goal of spreading ‘distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general’ run parallel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee report I released in January that detailed Vladimir Putin’s nearly two-decades long asymmetric assault on democratic institutions, universal values and the rule of law across Europe and in his own country. The SFRC report details the work of the Internet Research Agency and Yevgeniy Prigozhin – both are included in the indictment.
“It is now long past time for the President of the United States to personally admit that the Russian effort to influence America’s election was no ‘hoax.’ Russia’s aggressive effort to interfere in last year’s presidential election amount to an act of war. It is time for Mr. Trump to muster all the tools available to seek justice on behalf of the American people and protect our nation from ongoing attacks on our electoral and social systems. America has been left vulnerable to malign Russian efforts because the president has put himself above the security of our nation. This must change now.
“While Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team continue their investigations and carry out their prosecutions, Congress must take all necessary steps to protect the independence of the Special Counsel and the Justice Department so that this investigation can reach its conclusion no matter where it leads. No one – no matter how powerful – is above the law.”