While I interned at the United States House of Representatives, an interesting hearing was held by the Judiciary Committee, which discussed bipartisan perspectives regarding the Mueller Report. With the emergence of the 2020 elections, it is important to rule out Russian interference as a possible form of electoral fraud and manipulation.
Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-GA) speak on behalf of the committee, and actively listen to the testimonies of four unique witnesses.
Opening remarks from Chairman Nadler discussed how we must focus on what Russia did to our democracy in 2016, and what it still does to interfere today.
“Bipartisan perspectives demonstrate that we shouldn’t allow foreign nations to interfere in our democratic, self-government. FBI director, Christopher Wray, said 2 years ago ‘they will design a foreign influence task force to protect the undermining of our democracy’,” said Nadler.
Nadler said the 2016 election has demonstrated Russian interference both in the public and private areas of our democracy. Interestingly enough, President Donald Trump stated in an interview that he would be willing to accept electoral and advice from foreign powers, thinking that they could provide him with a strategical advantage in campaigning for the 2020 election.
Chairman Nadler refutes Trump’s statements by saying “He has sworn an oath to defend and protect enemies both foreign and domestic. The president has said he is open to receiving information from a foreign adversary, directly against our Constitution and democracy. Trump is open to interference in our elections.”
Opening remarks from Ranking Member Collins said that foreign interference in our election process is a pressing topic of discussion, and attacked the Democratic party on their views.
“Democrats dislike the president so strongly, they wish he was the foreign agent. Democrats must now redo the Mueller investigation and have a rerun episode on the Mueller Report,” said Collins.
I will now examine the testimonies of all four witnesses during the committee hearing, and their perspectives on Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 presidential election.
Firstly, Carrie Cordero discussed Russia’s involvement in a social media operation which successfully influenced the American public opinion. She talked about Russia’s extensive computer hacking, in which they stole democratic campaign info from the apparatus.
“Fake personas, leaky links, manipulation, and hacking are all attempts by the Russian government to undermine our democracy. Disqualification should have been the only justifiable punishment for President Trump during the 2016 election,” said Carrie Cordero during her testimony. “If we allow foreign influence to invade our media and take over our elections, they influence our decisions and undermine our democracy.”
Cordero said that members of Congress have the duty of protecting candidates and the public from foreign influence during elections.
“One cannot faithfully defend the Constitution, and simultaneously promote foreign influence in an effort to actively thwart out our own democracy. We have no presidential leadership to keep our elections safe, and we instead accept apathy and deflection. Congress has to act and raise the expectations of electoral security,” said Cordero.
Secondly, Richard Hasen, a well-versed witness with over 25 years of experience in studying election & government law issues, discussed his perspectives on the report.
“There is a broad bipartisan agreement that foreign interference is banned, as ‘We the People’ have the right of our own self-government. As a result, the Mueller Report should be a wakeup call for all Americans. Trump has encouraged foreign interference, and he saw nothing wrong in the Russians’ help during the election,” said Hasen. “For 2020, this conflict is illegal, but Trump has invitingly allowed foreign government interference yet again. This shall alter each and every American regardless of their political parties.”
Thirdly, Dr. Alina Polyakova offered some interesting thoughts regarding the Mueller Report and a detailed explanation of Russia’s interference in 2016.
“Russia is engaged in political warfare against western democracy, and that should be of deep concern to all Americans. Cyber warfare, political scandals, and other notorious titles are defining our elections right now,” said Polyakova. “The Mueller report clearly shows the Russian information thwart was highly adaptive and infiltrated our media while influencing the public perception of candidates. The entire process of Russia’s interference began as early as 2014, and Trump planned this.”
Alina then divided Russia’s attack on Western democracy into four distinct phases.
Phase 1: Network online accounts by impersonating American politicians.
Phase 2: Create audio devices to build increasing attention to Trump.
Phase 3: IRA undermined the Clinton campaign.
Phase 4: Active promotion of Trump (they reach 1.4 million followers on Facebook and Twitter).
“Russia continues to interfere since 2016 in European democracies as well. The operation targeting the US presidential election is the most prominent example of Russia interference, but not the first or the last,” said Polyakova.
Finally, Professor Sakrikrishna Prakash testified and provided his own perspectives on things.
“You have a privilege to attest under the Constitution, and the Department Of Justice is likely to listen to their open opinions. You are free to impeach the president for obstruction of criminal justice. People who work for the president should be required to testify before Congress. I don’t believe there is an executive branch,” said Prakash.
With the primaries and 2020 elections approaching us, it is important to discuss potential issues and threats facing our election security. With a variety of bipartisan perspectives on the Mueller Report, the American people are able to analyze and better understand the notion of foreign influence, and its impact upon our democracy.
With this article, I hope to inspire more political awareness and activism among the people, so that we can protect our country and the foundations which it is built upon.