If there’s one thing we know about potential election hacking in 2018, it’s that the GOP-led Congress has done next to nothing since 2016 to try to shore up the integrity of U.S. election systems. Now House Republicans are going the extra mile to make sure that if hacking does occur, they can take full advantage of it. The Atlantic‘s Natasha Bertrand writes:
Although congressional Democrats are pledging not to use stolen or hacked materials in their campaigns this fall, their Republican counterparts have so far declined to match that commitment. That partisan split could leave the November elections open to malicious interference. […]
The DCCC is “committed” to ensuring that “illegally stolen and hacked materials are not weaponized in any campaigns,” its communications director, Meredith Kelly, said. A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee—who requested anonymity to discuss the committee’s policies—was more circumspect, saying that the committee is “open to working with anyone to tackle cybersecurity issues.” Democrats are irked that the NRCC hasn’t responded to their written requests for cooperation, a decision the NRCC spokesman attributed to a lack of “trust.”
The divide has further complicated the parties’ ability to offer a unified response that could discourage future election attacks. “The antidote to future election hackings is unity, unity of Democrats and Republicans banding together to say we won’t weaponize what others stole,” Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell said. […]
A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan declined to comment on the record.
Once again House Republicans have the chance to come down on the side of the right of American voters to determine who will represent them in Congress and, once again, they are coming down on the side of whoever can help them win—even if it’s Russia or some other foreign adversary.
We already know the NRCC and Paul Ryan’s Super PAC utilized hacked material—reportedly provided by a Russian intelligence agent, Guccifer 2.0—in the 2016 election. In fact, the same dispute between the parties broke out then, with Democrats imploring their GOP counterparts not use the hacked intelligence.
After the first political advertisement appeared using the hacked material, [Democratic Rep. Ben Ray] Luján wrote a letter to his Republican counterpart at the National Republican Congressional Committee urging him to not use this stolen material in the 2016 campaign.
“The N.R.C.C.’s use of documents stolen by the Russians plays right into the hands of one of the United States’ most dangerous adversaries,” Mr. Luján’s Aug. 29 letter said. “Put simply, if this action continues, the N.R.C.C. will be complicit in aiding the Russian government in its effort to influence American elections.”
The NRCC is apparently reserving the right to be complicit again in helping Russia and Vladimir Putin have a hand in determining another U.S. election.