Influential Republicans redoubled on claims that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential Election Thursday, as United Nations Ambassador said the country had engaged in “warfare” against the U.S. and Sen. John McCain made the case for the Defense Department to take control of the federal election system.
“When a country can come interfere in another country’s elections, that is warfare,” Haley said. “It really is, because you’re making sure that the democracy shifts from what the people want to giving out that misinformation.”
Haley was speaking with former Secretaries of States Madeline Albright and Condoleeza Rice as part of a panel hosted in New York by the George W. Bush Institute.
The UN ambassador went on to call cyber attacks Russia’s “weapon of choice” against the U.S.
“I find it fascinating because the Russians, God bless them, they’re saying, ‘Why are Americans anti-Russian?'” she continued. “And, ‘Why have we done the sanctions?’ Well, don’t interfere in our elections and we won’t be anti-Russian.”
Rice weighed in, expressing a desire for swift and thorough government action to deter any such outside interference in future elections.
“I hope we’re on top of what really happened to us, that we’re really investigating it in ways that bring all of our tools– including what people in places like Google and Facebook will know about how this is done,” she said.
“And we’ve got to fix it,” Rice added. “Because my own view is that if they do this to us once, it’s their fault– if they do this to us twice, it’s ours.”
President Bush also spoke about the alleged Russian cyber attacks during a separate speech at the institute, telling a crowd that Americans face “external attacks on our democracy.”
“America has experienced a sustained attempt by a hostile power to feed and exploit our country’s divisions,” he said. “According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systemic, and stealthy. It’s conducted a range of stealthy media platforms.”
“Ultimately, this assault won’t succeed,” Bush added. “But foreign aggressions, including cyberattacks, disinformation, and financial influence should never be downplayed or tolerated.”
Meanwhile, over in Washington McCain spent part of Thursday making the case for Congress to order the Department of Defense to oversee state-managed elections to prevent electoral warfare.
During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, the Arizona Republican told Kenneth Rapuano, the assistant secretary for homeland defense and global security, that the Pentagon should respond if there is a question of meddling in future elections.
“For you to sit there and say, well but it’s not the Department of Defense’s responsibility, it is. The reason why we are here is because of free and fair elections,” McCain said. “If you can change the outcome of an election, that has consequences far more serious than a physical attack.”
Rapuano responded by reminding McCain of the serious constitutional concerns related to wresting control of election systems from the states and having the Pentagon operate as some kind of defacto national election police force.
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