Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Rep. Devin Midnight Run Nunes (R-CA) who has actively conspired with the Trump White House to obstruct justice — the House Intelligence Committee released its final Russia report, disputing the intelligence community’s unanimous conclusion that Russia had interfered in the U.S. election with the aim of aiding Trump — on Thursday rejected a motion to subpoena the interpreter present at President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent private meeting. GOP votes down Dem motion to subpoena interpreter from Trump, Putin meeting:
The motion was offered by Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the committee.
“It is our motion that the interpreter be subpoenaed to come and testify in closed session before our committee,” Schiff said during a public hearing on China’s threats to American government.
Schiff argued that the interpreter could have witnessed a key exchange which would shed light on national security matters.
“I regret that we have to request this in today’s meeting. We requested a business meeting next week, but that request has been declined. This may be our last opportunity before we go into an extended recess to vote to subpoena the interpreter and find out if there are any other national security problems that arose from this meeting,” Schiff continued.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, agrees the White House needs to explain what, if any deal, was agreed to privately with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a summit in Finland. Flake supports Dem demand for notes from Trump-Putin meeting.
In other congressional action today, GOP leader blocks resolution backing intelligence community on Russia:
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (Texas) blocked a resolution on Thursday that would have lent the Senate’s support to the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, which was offered up in the wake of President Trump’s Monday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.) tried to pass their resolution by unanimous consent, which requires the sign off of every senator.
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The measure, introduced on Wednesday, would support the intelligence community’s assessment of Russian election interference days after Trump voiced skepticism about Moscow’s election interference.
Flake blasted Trump’s rhetoric during the summit in Helsinki, Finland, calling it “truly an Orwellian moment.”
“To reject these findings — and to reject the excruciatingly specific indictment against 12 named Russian operatives in deference to the word of a KGB apparatchik — is an act of will on the part of the president,” Flake said.
He added that the “choice now leaves us contemplating a dark mystery: Why did he do that? What would compel our president to do such a thing?”
“If ever there was a moment to think not of your party but of your country, this is it,” Flake continued.
The resolution also commends the Justice Department for investigating Russia’s election interference.
The resolution agrees with the intelligence community’s findings that the Kremlin sought to influence the 2016 presidential election and that Russia should be held accountable; calls on the administration to fully implement the sanctions against Russia that Congress passed last year; and urges congressional oversight “including prompt hearings and the release of relevant note and information” so Congress can understand the Helsinki summit.
Flake and Coons pledged after Cornyn blocked their resolution that they would try again to pass it in the future.
“We’ll bring it back,” Flake said. “I believe that this should pass, and I believe it ultimately will pass.”
In addition to the Flake-Coons resolution, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blocked a separate resolution from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that also would have demanded Trump sit down with Mueller as part of his probe.
The Republican-controlled House on Thursday also eliminated new funding for states to strengthen election security, drawing protests from Democrats who said Republicans are not doing enough to prevent Russian meddling. Republicans block bid to extend election security grants:
“The Russians attacked our democracy. They will be back, and we are not ready,” said Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill. “The president is unwilling to meet this challenge, but we must be willing to meet the challenge.”
Quigley and other Democrats blasted President Donald Trump for failing to stand up to Russian President Vladimir Putin at this week’s summit in Helsinki and said Republicans were not taking threats against the integrity of U.S. elections seriously enough. Democratic lawmakers erupted into chants of “USA! USA!” during the debate, which came as Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she has not seen evidence that Moscow had tried to help elect Trump. Another top Trump official fudges Putin’s effort to help Trump.
The individual in charge of Homeland Security is denying the unanimous conclusion of the intelligence community that Vladimir Putin directed an attack on the U.S. election in order to aid the election of Donald Trump, a conclusion which was briefed by the intelligence chiefs to President-elect Donald Trump on January 6, 2017. From the Start, Trump Has Muddied a Clear Message: Putin Interfered.
“I haven’t seen any evidence that the attempts to interfere in our election infrastructure was to favor a particular political party,” Nielsen said Thursday at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, adding that Russia is attempting to “cause chaos on both sides.”
Nielsen needs to resign her post today.
Trump has made shifting statements on whether he agrees with the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. When asked Wednesday if Russia is still targeting the United States and its midterm elections, Trump responded “no,” but White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders later said Trump was saying “no” to answering more questions.
Quigley’s election security amendment would have extended funding for a state grant program overseen by the federal Election Assistance Commission. Congress approved $380 million in the current budget for the program, which is intended to help states strengthen election systems from hacking and other cyberattacks.
Last Week House Administration Committee Democrats released a report identified 18 states that congressional researchers say lack key voting safeguards, including paper trails for vote tallies and post-election audits. House Democrats list states with weakest election security in new report. Notably, no Republicans signed onto its conclusions.
The Department of Homeland Security has mounted an “inadequate” response to counter a Russian government-affiliated campaign preparing to undermine confidence in the American voting process, the Senate Intelligence Committee determined in an interim report released Tuesday detailing recommendations for how to improve election security across states and systems.
The interim report, which identified at least 18, and potentially as many as 21, states whose election systems were targeted, is the first of four installments the committee is planning to release as part of its ongoing investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 elections.
The report recommended committing more money to security efforts.
Trumpkins in Congress are leaving the U.S. and our election systems vulnerable to further Russian cyberattacks.