Klobuchar is the Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee, which has jurisdiction over elections, and has been a leader in the fight to protect our elections from foreign interference
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) today released the below statement in advance of Monday’s meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland. Klobuchar is the Ranking Member on the Senate Rules Committee, which has jurisdiction over elections. She is also the author of the Secure Elections Act, legislation to strengthen election cybersecurity in America and protect against foreign interference in future elections, and the Honest Ads Act, which would help prevent foreign interference in future elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements.
“Despite calls to cancel the meeting with Vladimir Putin, President Trump and the Russian leader will meet face-to-face on Monday in Helsinki. One strong and unambiguous message must be delivered: Stay out of our elections. Last week during the NATO summit in Brussels, President Trump said he would raise the issue of election interference with Putin as a result of ongoing Russian efforts to undermine the political systems of our country and our Western democratic allies. With the midterm elections 113 days away, it is past time for the President to accept the conclusions of his own Administration’s intelligence experts and to defend our democracy by imposing significant consequences on Russia if Putin continues to interfere in our elections. Americans, our allies and our partners deserve nothing less.
Here is what President Trump should tell Putin:
1. We know Russia directed attacks against our elections and that you are continuing to target our democracy. We do not accept the denials of the Russian government. The recent indictment of 12 Russian government officials makes it clear that you directed the attack on our election system and that your military and intelligence leaders followed your orders. Russian-backed hackers infiltrated presidential campaign accounts from both parties, launched cyberattacks against at least 21 state election systems and a U.S. voting systems software company, and obtained information on at least 500,000 American voters. And we know Russia’s hacking efforts went beyond our election infrastructure, including sophisticated information warfare designed to divide our country and weaken Americans’ confidence in our political system. We do not just suspect this to be the case - American intelligence officials have repeatedly confirmed it to be true. We also know the Russian government is continuing its efforts to destabilize other democracies and weaken institutions around the world
2. There will be consequences for interference. The Department of Justice has made it clear that it will work to apprehend the indicted Russian intelligence individuals and prosecute them to the full extent of the law, and we expect the Russian government’s full cooperation with this effor
In a testament to American’s bipartisan commitment to countering Russian aggression, both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation directing new sanctions against the Russian Federation as well as the individuals responsible for overseeing the attacks. Additional legislation has given the Administration the authority to sanction Russia for interfering in our allies’ elections, which happened in France and Italy, as well as during the Brexit vote in the UK. Those sanctions will be fully enforced, and more will follow in the event of further violations. We will stand with our allies and partners to isolate Russia both politically and economically should Russia continue on this course.
3. In Congress there is bipartisan support for investigations in election hacking and Congress is prepared to take action. In addition to pursuing action against those who carried out the attacks on our democracy, Congress is working on a bipartisan basis to secure our election systems from further attacks. Thus far, $380 million dollars has been secured to help our states protect their election infrastructure. Congress is prepared to act to prevent these unacceptable intrusions from happening again.
Making this strong statement during the meeting with President Putin is an important first step, but Congress has a critical role to play in securing our elections. That is why I’ve introduced the Secure Elections Act with together with Republican Senator James Lankford and a bipartisan group of our colleagues. This legislation would improve information sharing between the federal government and state, county, and municipal election agencies; assist state, county, and municipal election agencies in cybersecurity preparedness; and support states in replacing outdated and insecure electronic voting machines. I’ve also introduced the Honest Ads Act with Senators Mark Warner and John McCain which would counter the damaging propaganda efforts of foreign actors by increasing transparency and accountability for online political ads so that voters, law enforcement, journalists, and watchdog groups can better detect and investigate foreign involvement in our elections.
Bipartisan support in Congress is important but there is no substitute for Presidential leadership and action. Without it the costs imposed on Russia will not be sufficient to deter them in the future, either in the U.S. or internationally. The integrity of an election system is the cornerstone of any free democracy. The freedom to choose leaders and know with full confidence that those leaders were selected in free and fair elections, outside of foreign meddling, is something that Americans and other free nations have fought for. Election security is national security. If President Trump is to move forward with this meeting, it must reflect that reality.”