Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is doing everything in his power to keep Donald Trump in the White House, even if that means keeping American elections systems vulnerable to hacking by Russia, or any other foreign power that wants to intervene. He’s already done it a couple of times: when he shut down a public information effort on Russian attempts to hack the 2016 election, and when he blocked legislation to protect elections from advancing last year, ahead of the 2018 balloting.
No matter that Election Assistance Commission (EAC) officials are urgently pleading for assistance for 2020. Sen. Roy Blunt, Senate Rules Committee chairman, told officials in a hearing Wednesday that his boss, McConnell, wouldn’t be allowing legislation already passed by the House to come to the Senate floor. There are several bills pending before the committee, and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin wanted to know their prospects for advancement. Blunt told him there wasn’t any point in moving them forward. “I don’t see any likelihood that those bills would get to the floor if we marked them up,” Blunt said. “I think the majority leader just is of the view that this debate reaches no conclusion.”
It was McConnell, Blunt admitted, who also stopped legislation from advancing in the Rules committee last year. Last August, the committee was scheduled to mark up the Secure Elections Act, but the hearing was mysteriously canceled the very day it was supposed to happen. We know now that it was because McConnell pulled the plug on it, too, despite the warnings from the intelligence community that Russia was still a threat to that election. “I hope you catch the irony here that at the CIA and intelligence agencies, millions of dollars are being spent to stop the Russians from making a mess of the 2020 election,” Durbin said Wednesday in the hearing, “and yet, in the United States Senate, we can’t bring a bill to the floor to even debate it.”
That’s become even more urgent now that we know, definitively that Russia broke into Washington County, Florida’s voter registration database. We know that it was the Russian military spy agency, GRU, that did it, intelligence officials have told The Washington Post. But McConnell has his marching orders, direct from Trump: no secure elections for us.