McConnell blasted for letting trial run past SOTU; even Chris Wallace calls Dems ‘petty’ and ‘spiteful’ for it

person tie

Because of pressure mostly from Senate Democrats but also from some of his colleagues, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed late Friday to postpone President Donald Trump’s acquittal vote until next Wednesday.

The decision provoked frustration in some, though for different reasons.

Here is the McConnell-Schumer Senate deal which extends impeachment to next Wednesday. Story first reported by @OANN pic.twitter.com/b2pKhBma2i

— Jack Posobiec🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) February 1, 2020

Chris Wallace, one of Fox News’ most vocal Democrats, responded by blasting the Democrats for being so “petty” and “spiteful.” The remarks came after fellow FNC contributor Dana Perino opined about the Democrats’ motivation for pushing for a delay.

“I think one of the things that the Democrats want, and I don’t know why they think this would be helpful, is to be able to have the headline say, ‘An impeached president gives State of the Union,’” she said.

The president’s SOTU address is scheduled for Tuesday, a day before Trump is to be formally acquitted.

“I think it is so petty on the part of the Democrats and spiteful,” Wallace promptly chimed in. “End this. Land the plane!”


(Source: Fox News)

Others aimed their criticism at McConnell instead, including Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs and frequent FBN guest Ed Rollins, the co-chairman of the Donald Trump Great America PAC.

“Why in the world would the majority leader agree to run this thing through the state of the union address?” Dobbs asked in exasperation late Friday.

“He won, and the bottom line is that he should have shut it down tonight. And who cares if it’s in the middle fo the night? The whole thing is in the middle of the night,” Rollins replied.

“So what’s the profit in him doing this?” Dobbs pressed.

“There’s not,” Rollins replied. “There’s a danger to it because you have another whole weekend of the co-conspirators — The New York Times — leaking more Bolton stories and raising more hell. He’ll be on all the talk shows.”

Listen:


(Source: Fox Business Network)

Shortly before the Senate began the process of voting on whether or not to allow witnesses to testify in the president’s trial, the Times dropped yet another Bolton “bombshell.”

This one alleged that the “president asked his national security adviser last spring in front of other senior advisers to pave the way for a meeting between Rudolph Giuliani and Ukraine’s new leader.”

Within an hour of the “bombshell” dropping, the Democrat impeachment managers began making closing arguments that reportedly contained quotes from that very story.

“[T]he House managers begin their closing arguments, and guess what? They’ve got charts, they got graphs, they got quotes from the New York Times leak!” conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh noted at the time.

“It’s the playbook, and it is now so obvious, it’s become a joke. Every senator in that room knows exactly what’s going on here. We’re listening to closing arguments that are a coordinated, last-gasp, hail Mary for witnesses or what have you, that the New York Times found somebody to leak ’em something else from the manuscript of Bolton’s book.”

Dovetailing back to Dobbs, he shared his concerns on Twitter, as did other notable conservatives.

Look:

Why in the world would Senate Majority Leader McConnell allow this Radical Dem assault on @realDonaldTrump and the nation to run through the State of the Union and go on Wednesday when he could wrap it up tonight or at least tomorrow? #MAGA #AmericaFirst #Dobbs

— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) January 31, 2020

Get the vote done Tuesday.

Exonerate the President BEFORE the State of the Union Address Tuesday so America can officially and symbolically turn the page from this duplicitous impeachment.

Tuesday night needs to be @realdonaldtrump‘s. https://t.co/koYyhxOQOv

— JD Rucker (@JDRucker) February 1, 2020

Why is McConnell pushing this now to Wednesday?

— Jeremy Frankel (@FrankelJeremy) January 31, 2020

Someone needs to ask all those ‘muh Cocaine Mitch’ people why McConnell is cutting deals with Schumer to extend the impeachment trial. Weird!

— Jack Posobiec🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) January 31, 2020

Reports have emerged suggesting that “Cocaine Mitch” may have delayed the acquittal vote for his own personal benefit.

“A joint fundraising committee allied with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is hosting a fundraiser in the Miami area over Super Bowl weekend,” The Hill has confirmed.

“McConnell for Majority Leader, a joint fundraising committee, has scheduled a fundraiser at 4 p.m. Saturday at a ‘South Beach Miami Location Provided Upon RSVP,’ according to an invite obtained by The Hill.”

While it’s not clear whether the majority leader will attend the event, some have speculated that his scheduled presence at the event would certainly explain his inexplicable decision to delay the president’s acquittal vote.

So is this why McConnell didn’t force a vote tonight or tomorrow? Cause that would be bad https://t.co/n19AMOVDYg

— jim manley (@jamespmanley) February 1, 2020

To be fair, however, the president himself reportedly signed off on the delay.

“Before agreeing to the delay, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) phoned Trump to get the president’s approval, according to a source familiar with the conversation. Trump then signed off on the decision,” Politico reported.

It’s not clear what the strategy here is, though knowing the president, there is indeed most likely some sort of strategy at play.

Senior Staff Writer

V. Saxena is a staff writer for BizPac Review with a decade of experience as a professional writer, and a lifetime of experience as an avid news junkie. He holds a degree in computer technology from Purdue University.

Latest posts by Vivek Saxena (see all)

Related posts

CPAC chair: Mitt Romney ‘NOT invited’ to upcoming event after Senator votes for witnesses

person

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney’s decision to side with Democrats and vote for witnesses in the impeachment trial earned him much criticism and now a dis-invitation.

The Utah lawmaker was “formally not invited” to attend this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, referred to as CPAC, after his stunt in a Senate vote Friday when he voted in favor of hearing from witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial.

“The ‘extreme conservative’ and Junior Senator from the great state of Utah, @SenatorRomney is formally NOT invited to #CPAC2020,” American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp said in a mocking tweet on Friday.

The conservative conference scheduled for the end of the month will feature Trump as the keynote speaker.

BREAKING: The “extreme conservative” and Junior Senator from the great state of Utah, @SenatorRomney is formally NOT invited to #CPAC2020. pic.twitter.com/f35tYy73V1

— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) January 31, 2020

Romney and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine were the only Republicans who voted with Democrats on Friday in the failed attempt to allow additional witnesses to be heard in the trial. The final vote of 51-49 shot down a weeks-long Democratic effort to hear witnesses, such as former national security adviser John Bolton and others, and set the stage for a final vote to acquit the president next week.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were ultimately the swing GOP votes, sticking with the party and voting against the effort while Democrats began to discredit the process as a “sham.” Romney, who is not up for reelection until 2024, was roundly condemned for bucking the party though some, like Utah’s Republican senior Senator Mike Lee did come to his defense.

Mitt Romney is a good friend and an excellent Senator. We have disagreed about a lot in this trial. But he has my respect for the thoughtfulness, integrity, and guts he has shown throughout this process. Utah and the Senate are lucky to have him.

— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) January 31, 2020

Lee is a frequent CPAC attendee as is Romney who has spoken at the annual conservative gathering in the past, including in 2013, following his 2012 failed presidential bid. It was not clear if the former Massachusetts governor was even planning to attend this year’s event which will include Diamond and Silk, Candace Owens and California Rep. Devin Nunes as speakers as well as conservative commentator Mark Levin, and Brexit leader Nigel Farage.

CPAC and Schlapp were slammed by some Twitter users for the rebuke of Romney and display of “cancel culture” politics.

— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) January 31, 2020

oh what a calamity how will Mitt ever be able to carry on https://t.co/7vsYOPzEuh

— George Conway (@gtconway3d) January 31, 2020

— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) January 31, 2020

CPAC has turned into an alt right clown show. I’m sure Mitt could care less.

— Marylou Culkar (@MarylouCulkar6) February 1, 2020

But many others on Twitter were happy to see the Utah senator get called out.

I am so disappointed in Romney. What a traitor and I don’t use that loosely. Trump supported him completely in his bid for the senate. Romney has done everything to betray Trump. I never would have believed it but there it is.

— Chuck Woolery (@chuckwoolery) January 26, 2020

— Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) February 1, 2020

Epic Burn. 🔥🤣

I am going to CPAC because my dreams became memes.

And I didn’t betray the president 40 times.

— Carpe Donktum🔹 (@CarpeDonktum) January 31, 2020

Good riddance… It’s about time Mitt Romney be held accountable for his actions.

Not sure why he’d want to be at #CPAC anyway, he’s no longer a conservative. https://t.co/KtXVM1tWZY

— Jason Lewis (@LewisForMN) February 1, 2020

Good! He’s NOT a Republican!

Senior Staff Writer

Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.

Latest posts by Frieda Powers (see all)

Related posts

PDP woman leader burnt to death; home razed

umbrella

Bello condemns act, orders probe; Police confirm incident, begin investigation
As Dickson tenders video evidence of rigging, poll violence in Bayelsa
We have no business with Dickson —APC

By Clifford Ndujihe, Samuel Oyadongha, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Dirisu Yakubu & Winifred Azubuike

LAGOS — The violence which hallmarked weekend’s governorship polls in Kogi and Bayelsa states  took a dangerous dimension, yesterday, as the Woman Leader of  Engineer Musa Wada/Aro Campaign Council, Mrs Acheju Abuh, was reportedly burnt alive in her home by suspected political thugs.

Head of Communications, Wada/Aro Campaign Council, Mr. Faruk Adejoh-Audu, in a statement alleged that jubilant supporters of the Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, and thugs said to be celebrating his victory carried out the act.

He claimed that thugs, chanting GYB 4+4, and shooting sporadically “arrived Mrs Abuh’s house at about 2pm, surrounded the house, and shut every entry and exit from outside. They then poured petrol on the building and set it ablaze as other terrorized villagers watched from hiding.

She reportedly attempted to escape through a window but was prevented by the burglary proof, with gunshots raining in her direction.

The bloodthirsty thugs waited, shooting and watching with relish as Mrs Abuh cried from inside the inferno until her voice died out. They reportedly left only when the entire house and Mrs Abuh had been burnt to ashes.”

The Police in Kogi confirmed the incident, just as Kogi State Government condemned the dastardly act and ordered immediate probe.

This happened on a day Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State tendered video evidence of electoral fraud and violence in Nembe, Ogbia, and Southern Ijaw LGAs of the state in Saturday’s election, and accused the Army of colluding with APC to rig the poll.

Also, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, yesterday said the Police were aware of plans by politicians to sew police uniforms for their supporters during the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.

Police confirm arson on PDP Women leader, as Kogi govt condemns act

The Kogi Stare Police Command confirmed the incident through its Public Relations Officer, DSP William Aya,  in a statement, titled “Culpable homicide/mischief by fire,” said:

“On 18/11/2019 at about 1630hrs, one Musa Ety of Ochadamu, Ofu LGA reported at the station that at about 10:30 of same date, there was a misunderstanding between one Awolu Zekeri, aged 35 years, member of APC and one Gowon Simeon, a member of PDP, both of Ochadamu, in the process Gowon Simeon stabbed Awolu Zekeri with a knife on his lap, he died on his way to the hospital.

“As a result, angry youths in the area mobilized to the house of one Simeon Abuh of same address who is an uncle to the suspect, set it ablaze, and  burnt one Salome Abuh, aged 60 years.”

Aya said three other houses were equally burnt, adding that the corpse had been moved to the University Teaching Hospital Mortuary, Anyigba, for autopsy.

He disclosed that the Police Mobile Force and Police Special Forces had been drafted to the area to prevent further breakdown of law and order, while investigation into the matter continued.

However, the state governor has directed his Special Adviser on Security, Jerry Omodara, to get to the root of the incident.

Governor Bello’s spokesman, Kingsley Fanwo, who confirmed this, expressed disappointment over what he described as “mindless attacks by rival parties in Ochadamu.”

He said: “We feel disturbed at reports of violence in Ochadamu that has led to the loss of lives and property in the community. It was reported that a supporter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was stabbed to death while party members were jubilating over the outcome of the governorship election.

“The reprisal attack by alleged APC members which led to the death of an innocent woman is criminal and condemnable. Our government would not shield party members who break the laws of the land.

“Governor Yahaya Bello has directed security agents to quell the rising tension and also ensure that perpetrators of the murder and arson are brought to book. The governor is elected to protect all Kogi people regardless of their ethnic or political beliefs.”

Fanwo, who said the State Security Adviser, Commander Jerry Omodara, has been given orders to ensure the crisis is brought to an immediate end, urged the people of the community to maintain peace as justice would surely be served.

Idika Kalu condemns act

Four-time minister and elder statesman, Dr Kalu Idika Kalu, condemned the act, saying ‘’our common humanity has been called to question.’’

His words: “Surely, even for a beleaguered Nigeria, this, if true, is an unpardonable outrage and barbaric politics at its worst! A veritable tipping point, if countless other similar incidents are dubiously discounted!

“Our common humanity is called to question, whomsoever we are. .this crime, surely, is beyond partisan politics.  Our leaders in all spheres must declare a human tragedy in Kogi, indeed, in the entire nation.

“All men and women of goodwill, all who remotely regard themselves as leaders in this country, must demand full and prompt accountability for this dastardly act under whatever guise!

“Our creator will take vengeance for the bestiality displayed in the name of hateful party politics!

This is the last straw on the ceaseless assault on our civilization.”

How Bayelsa poll was rigged – Dickson

Meanwhile, Governor Seriake Dickson yesterday presented video evidence in support of the killings and election violence that characterised the conduct of last Saturday’s governorship election in Nembe local government area and other parts of the state.

Addressing a world press conference in Yenagoa, Dickson described the election as a charade and a carefully orchestrated plan to forcibly take over the state towards entrenching a one-party system.

He said: “This is not the first time we are having elections. People were killed, some ripped open and thrown into the river and up till now no arrest..

“As democrats, we believe in using democratic procedures in challenging what happened in Ogbia. In Ogbia, there was no collation done. In most of the areas, at the conclusion of voting, the soldiers came and rounded up everybody and forcibly took them to Ogbia town and asked all PDP leaders to leave to enable them replace with pre-written results. And so the results announced for Ogbia, like those for Southern Ijaw and Nembe were not real.

“What has happened in Bayelsa is one of the most brazen acts of distortion and rape of our democracy. What took place was not a democratic election. It was a military coup. It was the height of conspiracy by the federal government and security agencies to subvert the democratic rights of our people for the sole purpose of foisting the APC on the people.

“It has never been like this before. In 2015, it wasn’t as bad as this. In this case, not only was the Army directed to take over our place, but also to collude with APC thugs to unleash terror on our people.”

The governor urged Bayelsans to be calm, adding that the reprehensible acts against democracy would be addressed through democratic procedures.

Dickson also described as balderdash, the notion being bandied about by APC leaders that it was disagreement between him and former President Goodluck Jonathan that led to their pyrrhic victory, emphasizing that Jonathan remained a leader of the entire country whose image and reputation was too weighty to be dragged in the mud by the opposition party.

He explained that as a leader of the country, the former President was at liberty to receive visitors of the APC who paid him a visit but warned on the dangers posed by the satanic insinuations being weaved around the visit by the APC to sell their diabolic plot to turn Nigeria into a one party state and a vicious attempt to legitimize illegitimate and indefensible electoral outcomes.

He stressed that no politician had stood by Jonathan more than himself and that in the build up to the elections, he had visited Jonathan about sixteen times to meet with him on the way forward for the PDP.

“My reaction is that President Jonathan remains a leader of our country. He is at liberty to receive members of any political party but in the context of all that is going on I know that the insinuations are not misplaced.

“APC came to Bayelsa to take his state and people by force. With the comments they are making about him, Oshiomhole coming to Bayelsa to praise Jonathan. What they were doing is laying the foundation to perpetrate fraud and violence

“No politician has stood by Jonathan more than me. They simply used his name and image to legitimize an illegitimacy. I can see the strategic content. They used Jonathan to expand the notion of disagreement and after the rigging to go to him like Pontius Pilate to wash off their hands and put it at his doorsteps to say he sanctioned it…But let’s accord him the right to meet with other dignitaries.”

Fake policemen disrupted polls– IGP

Speaking on the violence that trailed the polls, IGP Mohammed Adamu, said the Police were aware of plans by politicians to sew police uniforms for their supporters during the exercises.

The IGP also said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted the November 16 governorship polls in parts of the two states were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.

Briefing State House correspondents after a security meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, Adamu stated that all security personnel who worked during the elections were given “special identification tags,” adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.

The IGP, who said the security situation in the country was stable, however, said investigation was ongoing to unravel the identities of those that caused violence during the elections, adding that 11 arrests had been made.

On the alleged police extortion of motorists in South-East by police officers at check points, he advised that people should always copy the names of such police officers and report them to the police hierarchy in the area.

Jonathan’s loyalty is to Nigeria – Omokri

Speaking on why former President Goodluck Jonathan hosted APC leaders and comments that his support made APC win Bayelsa governorship election, Mr Reno Omokri, said the ex-President remained a member of the PDP but that his loyalty was to Nigeria.

In a statement issued yesterday, Omokri, a former aide of Jonathan, said the ex-President was, however, required to accept all Nigerians because of his role as an elder statesman.

Omokri was reacting to the controversy sparked off after Jonathan hosted some All Progressives Congress, APC, governors at his residence in Otuoke, following the victory of David Lyon, APC candidate in the Bayelsa governorship election.

Jonathan was said to have tacitly supported Lyon against Duoye Diri, candidate of the PDP.

Omokri said his former boss had no interest in partisan politics and that he welcomed anyone who paid him a courtesy visit.

According to him, it is more appropriate to say Jonathan’s “eternal party is Nigeria.”

“Former President Goodluck Jonathan is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party. Throughout his sojourn on earth, he has been a member of only one political party,” Omokri said.

“Dr. Jonathan is known for his stability and loyalty. These are character traits that have been lifelong companions of his. He is also an elder statesman and that role requires that he accepts all Nigerian citizens, and indeed all the world’s peoples, in the spirit of the brotherhood of man.

“As an elder statesman and Chairman of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, Dr. Jonathan will receive people of goodwill who apply to pay him a courtesy visit, irrespective of their political or religious leanings. Though a Christian, he has received Muslim groups and diverse other visitors.

“Dr. Jonathan intends to devote the rest of his life on Earth to building unity, and engendering opportunity for Nigerians and Africans and he has no desire, or reason to engage in partisan politics beyond being a loyal member of the Peoples Democratic Party.

“His being a member of the Peoples Democratic Party is institutional. In fact, it is more accurate to state that his eternal party is Nigeria, for which he reminds all Nigerians that they are brothers and sisters born from the womb of one Nigeria.”

PDP youths blame party leadership for Bayelsa defeat

Indeed, the failure of the PDP to retain the governorship seat in Bayelsa State has been blamed on the national leadership of the party.

A group of youths, under the auspices of PDP South-South Youth Vanguard, who stated this yesterday, also fingered what they called Governor Seriake Dickson’s high-handedness in the build up to selection of the party’s candidate for the election.

In a statement by its National Chairman, James Efe Akpofure, the youths claimed that monies exchanged hands between the party leadership and the governor over his choice of candidate.

The group further said Bayelsa people were not happy with Governor Dickson’s decision to feature a candidate that was not popular among the people, even as they described the choice of Diri as selfish.

Aside from blaming Dickson, the group also accused former President Jonathan of anti-party activities, stressing that no matter the issue, the governor, the party leadership and Jonathan ought to have found a way to resolve it.

The group said: “The failure of PDP to win Bayelsa State governorship election should be blamed on the party leadership led by Prince Uche Secondus.

“Governor Dickson failed to listen to the people. He brought an unpopular candidate, who does not have what it takes to win the election.

“The role of former President Jonathan didn’t help matters, rather, it escalated the situation.”

The Youth Vanguard called for the dissolution of the Prince Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee, NWC, of the party and also called for National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting to address pertinent issues affecting the party.

We have nothing with Dickson —APC

Reacting to Dickson allegation last night, APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said:  ‘’What video?  Is it about the election?  We have moved past that stage.  We have nothing with Dickson.’’

Related posts

Russia and 2020 Elections

One week after Robert Mueller’s testimony shined a spotlight, once again, on election interference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is feeling the heat. The leader turned heads on the Senate floor Monday as he rose to decry critics who have dubbed him “a Russian asset” and “Moscow Mitch” for stonewalling congressional measures to improve election security. And with momentum building in the House to formally start impeachment proceedings against President Trump, the pressure is unlikely to let up anytime soon.

Focusing on election interference from 2016 is backwards thinking, though, at least according to Virginia Senator Mark Warner. With 2020 just around the corner, he tells WIRED—in an exclusive interview—that the upcoming election is where both parties need to direct their attention right now.

As the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Warner has long been a vocal proponent of new legislation to strengthen election protections, such as the Honest Ad Act, which would compel Silicon Valley firms to disclose when political ads are paid for by a foreign nation. He’s also behind a bill that would require campaigns to alert federal officials if they’re approached by a foreign operative offering information or other assistance. Both bills have bipartisan support—Senator Susan Collins became the first Republican to cosponsor the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections Act earlier this week.

Even as GOP leaders try to position election security as a partisan issue, Warner—a former governor of Virginia and a cofounder of the firm that eventually became Nextel—has maintained the respect of his colleagues across the aisle. But his frustration seems to be growing, especially now that Trump has tapped Representative John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) to be his next director of national intelligence. Unlike Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has already come out opposed to Ratcliffe, Warner tells WIRED he’s still got some patience left. Even if it’s wearing thin.

This transcript is slightly edited for length and clarity.

WIRED: After Mueller testified, the president and Republicans say case closed. What do you make of that?

Mark Warner: I’m not here to relitigate 2016, or the Mueller testimony, specifically. I would point out, out of the Mueller investigation: 37 indictments, the president’s national security adviser pled guilty. The president’s campaign manager pled guilty. The president’s deputy campaign manager pled guilty. The president’s chief political adviser is coming to trial in the fall, Roger Stone. The attorney general had to resign. There were literally hundreds of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian agents.

That’s not normal. And I think the biggest takeaway from the Mueller testimony was that the Russians who attacked us in 2016 are still attacking us and, in Bob Mueller’s words, on a daily basis. You combine that with the warnings from Trump’s own FBI director [Christopher Wray] and Trump’s own director of national intelligence [Dan Coats]. And one of the things that concerns me the greatest is that we’ve not done more to protect the integrity of our election system in 2020.

I was just talking to your [Intelligence Committee] cochair, Senator [Richard] Burr, and he was saying the states in 2018 weathered these attacks, the national infrastructure is good on election security. Basically, case closed, again, not much more is needed.

I think everyone picked up their game in 2018, including the Department of Homeland Security, and our intelligence community was more active as well. But the intelligence community’s own reporting was that Russia didn’t throw its full force of efforts in 2018. Chances are they’ll reserve those for the presidential election. So I think there is some low-hanging fruit that would get 75 votes on the floor of the Senate—if we could get these bills to the floor of the Senate.

I think there ought to be an affirmative obligation that if a foreign government, the Kremlin, offers you campaign help, your obligation ought to be not to say thank you, but to report to the FBI. I think we ought to make sure that every polling station in America has a paper ballot backup, so that if a machine was hacked, you’ve still got ability to protect the integrity of the voting system. And I haven’t met anyone that doesn’t think we need some basic guard rails around the manipulation of Facebook, Twitter, and Google by foreign entities and others. So at least there ought to be the requirement that if somebody advertises on a political basis on Facebook, but in truth it’s a foreign government, they ought to have the same disclosure requirements as somebody who advertises on radio or television.

Isn’t it a little bit ironic that in this highly digital era, we’re going back to paper ballots?

I think we need to make sure that we use the best technology, but if technology, as we see from banks this week, can continue to be hacked into, if voting machines are not as protected as needed, if the private companies who control the voter files could have their information moved around … You don’t need to change votes to cause chaos. I think people’s overall confidence in the system goes up if there is that back check of having a paper ballot backup. Again, this is not saying we wouldn’t still use voting machines, but across the election community everyone believes it’s safer if you have that paper ballot backup that goes along with the voting counting machines.

And now we know we’re getting attacked, cybersecurity is on the top of many minds. And then the president this week announced he’s nominating Representative John Ratcliffe to be DNI, who seems like more of a politician and a Trump supporter than someone from the intel community. Does that worry you?

It worries me greatly. The irony is that Donald Trump’s appointees in the intel world—his director of national intelligence, Dan Coats; his director of the FBI, Chris Wray, his director of the CIA, Gina Haspel—have been pretty good about speaking truth to power, even when Trump did not want to hear the truth. They’ve been very good at not allowing America’s intelligence to get politicized—while I’m going to give Mr. Ratcliffe the courtesy of a meeting, I fear that he is being appointed in the mold of a Bill Barr, the attorney general, who basically is simply a loyalist first to Donald Trump and doesn’t maintain that kind of independence.

If there’s ever been a time when everyone says that Russians and others will be back, when we’ve got as many potential conflict spots around the world, we need to make sure that the head of our national intelligence is not going to politicize the intelligence. That intelligence product goes to our military, it goes to the executive, it goes to us in the Congress. It cannot be a political product. And we’ve got to make sure that the intelligence community is going to be willing to speak truth to power, and that means telling Donald Trump the truth, even if he doesn’t want to hear it. And so far it appears to me that Mr. Ratcliffe, who doesn’t have much experience and who seems—based upon press reports—that his audition was based on questioning Mueller and questioning the legitimacy of the Russian’s intervention in our electoral system, is pretty chilling.

What do you see as the biggest threats—or are there any new threats—facing America in 2020?

So I think there are a couple of new threats. One, Russia in 2016 was surprised at how vulnerable our systems were, our electoral systems. And how easy Facebook and Twitter and YouTube were to be manipulated. So I think that playbook is now out there, they’ve used the same tactics in the Brexit vote [and] the French presidential elections. So my fear is we may not only see Russia, we can see Iran, we could potentially see China, who has a great deal of control over a number of their Chinese tech companies, start to use these tools because they’re cheap and effective. I like to point out that if you add up all Russia spent in the Brexit vote, the French presidential elections, and the 2016 American elections, it’s less than the cost of one new F-35 airplane. So Russia and our adversaries, I think, have decided the way to engage with us in conflict is not through straight up old-school military but through cyber activities, misinformation and disinformation, increasingly trying to weaken and interfere, for example with our space communications, and I think Russia will up their game … and others … [It] means there will be more adversaries in 2020.

Second is, I think in 2016 we saw Russia try to misrepresent—the Russian agents misrepresent themselves as Americans on Facebook and Twitter by simply posting fake messages. The next iteration, the next generation of that will be the so-called “deepfake” technology, where an American may not be able to view what his eyes are telling him, because you’ll see an image of you or me or a political figure that may sound like that person but isn’t that person at all.

Now, if McConnell doesn’t allow some of these bills, like the Honest Ads Act or just broader election security bills, to come up, what do you think the Silicon Valley tech firms can do on their own?

Look, we’ve seen progress made by Facebook, Twitter, some progress made by Google. But I don’t think self-regulation, particularly when a regulation may mean they may not be collecting as much information as they like, or self-regulation may mean they have to go against or limit some of the fake content. It goes against their very business model. So I think Facebook has made progress in particular, but some of the tools they have—for example, the ability to access on an easy basis the campaign ads that they promised, that tool is not effective at all.

So at the end of the day, when we’re talking about something as critical as protecting the integrity of our democracy, when Americans lack faith in so many of our institutions to start with, if we don’t go the extra mile and put in place a set of rules and regulations—and god forbid should Russia or Iran or another foreign enterprise massively interfere again—and we didn’t do our duty, then shame on all of us.

This week, two fairly senior Senate Democrats called for impeachment proceedings to begin. Where are you on that? We started this conversation with you saying you don’t want to relitigate 2016, but it seems like there’s this growing chorus amongst Democrats to impeach.

I actually think Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi has navigated that challenge very well. I understand the frustrations with President Trump—his activities and tweets and antics. I think, though, the best way we can show that that’s not who we are as Americans is to defeat him at the ballot box in a free and fair election. And what I worry about is if we don’t guarantee that free and fair election, then we haven’t done our job.


Related posts