At some point the Russians figured out that the best way to defeat America is by old-fashioned capitalism and corruption: find easily corruptible politicians in key positions of power and simply buy them, through bribery or with campaign contributions. Politicians can be bought very cheaply, just ask any professional lobbyist.
As Joan McCarter at Daily Kos explained earlier this year, Something is really rotten in the state of Kentucky, and it’s coming from Russia:
The opinion editors back home in Kentucky are not really thrilled with the idea of the Russians getting an economic hold on the state. Not just the Russians, but the Russian mob. At the Louisville Courier Journal, Joseph Gerth is not too excited at the prospect that “by the middle of the year, we’ll be in business with Oleg Deripaska, a buddy of Vladimir Putin.” Kentucky is looking for $200 million from the Russian to invest in a $1.7 billion aluminum plant there. He goes on to describe Deripaska’s “deep ties to Russian organized crime,” and the allegations of Deripaska’s violent, ruthless, criminal past in Russia.
Gerth’s angle is Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s support for this project—the state has already spent $15 million in the Braidy Industries aluminum plant, and how important getting this big project going for Bevin’s re-election, as “there has been an air of suspicion surrounding the Braidy project as it has dragged on.” It took the intervention of two other powerful Kentucky politicians to make it happen—Sens. Rand Paul and, most importantly, Mitch McConnell. Those two were among the three votes in the Senate that helped Donald Trump lift sanctions against Rusal, the aluminum company that will invest in the state which is partially owned by Deripaska. Or, as far as we know, “officially” partially owned. Things are fluid in Russian corporate structure.
And you all remember Deripaska—he’s good buddies and a former employer of Donald Trump’s first campaign manager, Paul Manafort. The Trump/Manafort/Russia and specifically Deripaska (friend of Putin!) connection is deep and complicated and at the heart of the NO COLLUSION collusion that helped land Trump in the White House.
Once again, all of this brings up one key question: how deep into Russia is McConnell? What does he owe Putin? He helped Russia get Trump into the White House by refusing to let the American government notify the public about and help states arm against Russian incursion in the 2016 election. Now he’s looking to Russia to help his own re-election prospects and stranglehold on the Senate, with a big assist from Bevin and Paul.
Something is really rotten in the state of Kentucky.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has suggested that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wasn’t putting election security legislation up for a vote because Republicans benefited from Russian interference in the 2016 election. “There are two possibilities,” Durbin said. “He really doesn’t believe it, he doesn’t think the Russians were involved in 2016. He ignores the Mueller report and our intelligence agencies or in the alternative feels the Russians were on the side of the Republicans in 2016 and just might be again in 2020.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has accused Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of “aiding and abetting” Russian interference in US elections by failing to address election security concerns, despite warnings from the intelligence community that Russia may once again attempt to interfere in the 2020 campaign. “Mitch McConnell is aiding and abetting it by refusing to do anything.”
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said he thinks McConnell does not want to make elections more secure. “The only logical conclusion is that Senator McConnell wants American elections to be vulnerable to hackers and foreign interference,” Wyden said. Mitch McConnell takes checks from voting machine lobbyists — even as he blocks election security bills. “It is unconscionable for Republicans to stick their heads in the sand and do nothing after what happened in 2016. If Congress doesn’t act, it’s only a matter of time before hackers successfully interfere again.”
Was it just naked partisan self-interest that “The Enemy of The People,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, enabled Russian interference in the 2016 election because it benefitted Republicans? McConnell was asked in 2016 by top intelligence officials to join in bipartisan condemnation of Russian interference on Trump’s behalf, and refused, claiming he would denounce any public condemnation of it as partisan politics. He has blocked every election security bill since the 2016 election in the Senate, leaving America vulnerable to further Russian interference in our elections.
Or have the Russians developed another asset in the Republican Party, in addition to Donald Trump, by dumping millions of dollars into Kentucky to help McConnell get reelected? Is Mitch McConnell betraying his country for thirty pieces of silver?
FBI director Christopher Wray testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that the “Russians are absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections.” He added they’re still at it. “Well, my view is until they stop, they haven’t been deterred enough.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified on Wednesday that Russians are still interfering in US elections. “No, it wasn’t a single attempt” … “They’re doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign.” Earlier he’d said how that aspect of his investigation has been underplayed will have a long-term effect on the US.
FBI Director Christopher Wray and Special Counsel Robert Mueller are breaking the glass and pulling the alarm bell.
On Thursday, “The Enemy of The People,” Mitch McConnell, once again blocked two bipartisan election security bills from receiving a vote in the Senate. He is leaving America vulnerable to further Russian attacks on our electoral system. McConnell blocks two election security bills:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked two election security measures on Thursday, arguing Democrats are trying to give themselves a “political benefit.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) had tried to get consent Thursday to pass a House bill that requires the use of paper ballots and includes funding for the Election Assistance Commission. It passed the House 225-184 with one Republican voting for it.
But McConnell objected, saying Schumer was trying to pass “partisan legislation.”
* * *
Schumer argued that if McConnell didn’t like that bill “let’s put another bill on the floor and debate it.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) also asked for consent to pass legislation that would require candidates, campaign officials and their family members to notify the FBI of assistance offers from foreign governments.
McConnell also objected to that bill.
Also on Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016, largely undetected by the states and federal officials at the time. Senate Intel Committee Unveils Election Security Report In Wake Of Mueller Hearings:
The Senate intelligence committee has released its report detailing Russia’s targeting of election systems in 2016 along with recommendations for protecting American elections from foreign interference.
The committee’s final report on election security appeared Thursday as the 2020 presidential race gets underway in what promises to be a bitter and divisive election battle.
It also followed former Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller’s stark warning to lawmakers on Wednesday that Russia’s sprawling influence operation of 2016 was not a one-and-done.
The leaders of the Senate intelligence committee echoed that warning in unveiling their election security report on Thursday, while also hailing the steps they said have been taken since 2016.
“The Department of Homeland Security and state and local elections officials have dramatically changed how they approach election security, working together to bridge gaps in information sharing and shore up vulnerabilities,” said Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C.
“The progress they’ve made over the last three years is a testament to what we can accomplish when we give people the opportunity to be part of a solution. There is still much work that remains to be done, however.”
Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., said he wants the findings to fuel more work by agencies and in the Congress to support election security.
“I hope the bipartisan findings and recommendations outlined in this report will underscore to the White House and all of our colleagues, regardless of political party, that this threat remains urgent, and we have a responsibility to defend our democracy against it,” he said.
The Justice Department indicted 25 Russian nationals and three Russian entities because of their alleged role in the Kremlin’s active measures campaign against the 2016 U.S. vote.
The special counsel’s final report documents in detail those efforts, which started as early as 2014 when Russian operatives traveled to the U.S. on an intelligence-gathering mission.
The Senate intelligence committee’s report, meanwhile, adds to the U.S. government’s now sizable reporting on Russia’s interference operations.
Those efforts included the hacking of Democratic Party computer systems, a social media disinformation campaign to sow discord among Americans and the probing of state election infrastructure.
The committee and Department of Homeland Security have said Russian-affiliated hackers probed the election systems of 21 states. Officials say there’s no evidence that vote tallies were changed.
But in 2016, the U.S. political and election system also were slow to respond to a threat that few foresaw.
“Russian efforts exploited the seams between federal authorities and capabilities, and protections for the states,” the Senate report found. “State election officials, who have primacy in running elections, were not sufficiently warned or prepared to handle an attack from a hostile nation-state actor.”
In its report, the Senate intelligence committee says that must change.
Agencies at the federal, state and local level need to be more aware of cyberthreats and quicker to respond to them. And the committee provides several recommendations to help protect America’s elections.
One, for example, is that U.S. intelligence agencies should put a high priority on attributing cyberattacks quickly and DHS should create clear channels of communication between the federal government and the states.
States and local jurisdictions, which administer elections in the U.S., need to replace old, outdated voting systems that are vulnerable to cyberattacks, the committee said.
There is a growing consensus in Congress about the need to protect elections from foreign interference, and several members of Congress, including Warner, have proposed legislation to address various aspects of the problem.
But those proposals still appear to face an uphill climb in Congress, in part because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., views many of the ideas as unnecessary.
Warner has proposed placing new restrictions on social media platforms, mandating paper ballot backups for every vote cast in the United States and requiring U.S. political campaigns to report contacts with foreign agents.
McConnell and other skeptics point to the progress they say has been made since 2016 and cite the comparatively smooth working of the 2018 midterm elections as evidence that no major overhaul is needed.
The Senate majority leader also opposes a major bill for philosophical reasons, warning about what he calls the danger of “federalizing” a duty mostly discharged by state and local officials.
The Senate intelligence committee’s report on Thursday both concurred that state and local leaders should retain their primacy over elections and suggested that more work by Congress could be in order to help them.
In particular, the intelligence committee recommended that when the recipients of about $380 million in election-assistance grants have used up all that money, Congress should allocate more.
The Senate committee also called for more deterrence in the geopolitical realm, to make clear to nations such as Russia that election interference would bring a response.
“The United States should communicate to adversaries that it will view an attack on its election infrastructure as a hostile act and respond accordingly,” Burr and Warner’s office said in a statement. [Something Mitch McConnell prevented in 2016.]
“The U.S. government should not limit its response to cyber activity; rather, it should create a menu of potential responses that will send a clear message and create significant costs for the perpetrator.”
Mitch McConnell is willfully leaving the U.S. election system vulnerable to cyber attack from the Russians, and other sophisticated state actors like China, North Korea and Iran. He should be considered a national security threat to the United States. There is no legitimate reason for his not increasing election security as the Congress is attempting to do.
UPDATE: I can’t take credit, but I approve. ‘Putin’s other puppet’: Internet blows up #MoscowMitch McConnell after he blocks bills securing election:
Reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked two bills aimed at helping to secure America’s election process from Russian interference infuriated Twitter commenters with his action — or inaction — coming right after ex-special counsel Robert Mueller testified that the Kremlin will seek to interfere just as they did in 2016.
The Senate majority leader blocked two election security bills twice this week and commenters were quick to note that the Republican leader also prevented the Obama administration from warning Americans about Russian meddling in 2016.
With the 2020 election right around the corner, McConnell’s decision to look the other way had one Twitter user calling him “Putin’s other puppet” — a reference to a nickname aimed at Donald Trump who was helped in his 2016 presidential run by Vladimir Putin.