Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s most dramatic and impassioned testimony to House committees Wednesday was about his alarm over Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and the country’s determination to keep it up. It was the conclusion to his opening statement. “Over the course of my career, I have seen a number of challenges to our democracy,” he said. “The Russian government’s efforts to interfere in our elections is among the most serious. […] This deserves the attention of every American.” He reiterated that in his answers to members’ questions, telling the members that 2016 “wasn’t a single attempt. They’re doing it as we sit here.”
Senate Democrats tried to do something Thursday morning, by attempting to get consent to bring two bipartisan election security bills to the floor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked both, saying that Democrats were bringing the bills to get a “political benefit”—the political benefit of not allowing Russia to take over our government. McConnell said that these bills, which would require the use of paper ballots and additional funding for the Elections Assistance Commission, are “partisan legislation.”
On Wednesday, Democrats tried to bring two other non-controversial election protection bills to the floor (one co-authored by Sen. Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican who teeters on the very edge of the far-right spectrum). Both of those bills were blocked by Republicans. Sen. Mark Warner, ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, brought one of those bills. “Mr. Mueller’s testimony should serve as a warning to every member of this body about what could happen in 2020, literally in our next elections,” said Warner. “[U]nfortunately, in the nearly three years since we uncovered Russia’s attack on our democracy, this body has not held a single vote on stand-alone legislation to protect our elections.”
McConnell is the sole reason that no stand-alone election protection bills have come to the floor. We can speculate as to why.
t could be because he, too, is relying on the Russians for election assistance. It might be because he knows the only way Republicans can hold the Senate majority and the White House is by cheating. Or he might just be so fundamentally corrupt that he doesn’t need a reason.
So how do you force McConnell to allow these bills? One way would be with an impeachment inquiry that puts hearings about Russia’s interference in our election on every television in the nation for weeks on end. Educate the public and get them outraged. Make the complacent traditional media cover it in some way other than “optics.” Make even Republicans recognize that owing their political allegiance to Vladimir Putin is bad for the country.
We can’t afford to wait until the election to deal with the issue. Because if that election is not secure, we could be stuck with Trump and minority rule for the foreseeable future.