A bipartisan bill to protect American elections from foreign interference was once again blocked on Tuesday, this time by a Republican senator who claimed that the legislation was an “attack” on Donald Trump.
“The mechanisms in this bill have been designed more to attack the Trump administration and Republicans than to attack the Russians and those who would attack our country and our elections,” Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) said of the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act.
The DETER Act — introduced by Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) — directs the head of the U.S. intelligence community to expose any foreign interference in federal elections and sanction the countries that were determined to have interfered.
The bill is a response to Russia’s hacking and disinformation campaign in the 2016 election.
It’s designed to send a very clear and simple message to Russia or any other country that is thinking about interfering in our elections and undermining our democracy that if we catch you, you will suffer a severe penalty,” Van Hollen said on the Senate floor on Wednesday, hoping for the bill to be passed by unanimous consent.
Crapo, however, blocked the bill, in essence saying it was more to punish Trump — who has repeatedly denied Russian interference and has instead pushed false conspiracies that countries like Ukraine were responsible for the 2016 meddling.
“The mechanisms in this bill have been designed more to attack the Trump administration and Republicans than to attack the Russians and those who would attack our country and our elections,” Crapo said on the Senate floor as he blocked the bill.
Trump, for his part, invited Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the White House on Tuesday for a meeting. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claims Trump confronted Lavrov about Russia’s election meddling. Lavrov denied it, saying Russia’s election interference wasn’t discussed, according to the Hill.