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Transatlantic leaders push Congress for election protection measures before midterms

August 30, 2018

Congress must pass bipartisan election interference legislation ahead of the midterm elections now only nine weeks away an international bipartisan group of political, technology, business and media leaders warned.

The Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity (TCEI) said it sent House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi a letter urging them to take action on the eight election-related bills currently awaiting consideration.

“Almost two years after the 2016 presidential elections, the United States is not fully prepared for the next wave of election interference that it may face in November and beyond,” the commission wrote in a letter dated Wednesday. “It is for this reason that we urge Congress to pass bipartisan election interference legislation before planning to recess ahead of the midterm election.”

TCEI’s 14 members include former heads of state and top officials, among them former NATO Secretary-General Anders Rasmussen, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, former Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.

The commission formed in May in the wake of reports that Russia had meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and worked with favored parties in votes across Europe in recent years. U.S. election officials have said they expect Russia to try to interfere in the November midterm and 2020 presidential elections as well.

In late June, TCEI members gathered in Copenhagen for the inaugural Democracy Summit to address the threat the West faces from rising authoritarianism and populism and to gauge risks to Western democratic systems.

In its letter to Congressional leadership, which was signed by co-chairs Mr. Rasmussen and Mr. Chertoff, the commission wrote: “We understand the pressure you face in scheduling hearings, markups and floor time with many competing priorities. However, with only 10 weeks left before the midterm elections and multiple warnings from senior intelligence officials of the ongoing threat level, the time to act is now.”

Mr. Rasmussen served as NATO secretary-general from 2009 to 2014 and as prime minister of Denmark from 2001 to 2009. Mr. Chertoff served in George W. Bush’s Cabinet as homeland security secretary from 2005 through 2009.

The letter notes that TCEI does not take a position on any specific legislation but asks Congress to recognize the urgency of the issue in a bipartisan manner.

“It is our experience that when it comes to Russia,” the commission said. “Moscow respects strength and concrete action over rhetoric. The inability of Congress to enact meaningful legislation to combat foreign interference signals to our adversaries that they can continue down the same destructive path unimpeded.”

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