The biggest takeaway from the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report is the need to better protect America’s electoral process, according to Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.).
“That’s really perhaps the biggest takeaway of all — that we’ve got to insulate our elections, both our state computer processes and our cyber security against these kinds of attacks and we’ve got to be ready for it,” Raskin, a Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, told Hill.TV’s Jamal Simmons during an interview that aired on Friday.
“We can’t allow foreign governments or domestic actors to divide the American people along the lines of race, ethnicity and party in such a severe way as they did in the 2016 campaign,” Raskin continued.
The Maryland Democrat added that he’s willing to accept Mueller’s findings that the Trump campaign did not collude with Russia, even though members were “clearly the beneficiaries of it.”
“I’m perfectly willing to accept the special counsel’s conclusion that the Trump campaign was not involved at the beginning of this in a criminal conspiracy — they were clearly the beneficiaries of it … and they clearly went along with it,” he said, citing the 2016 Trump Tower meeting as one example.
According to the report, Mueller had considered charging Trump campaign officials with a campaign finance violation after they met with a Russian lawyer who offered damaging information on then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The special counsel later ruled against making the charge because he didn’t think he had enough evidence.
Mueller nevertheless said in the report that the presence of officials like former campaign Paul Manafort and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner signaled that the campaign was hoping to benefit from the information.
Raskin said that the Russians didn’t ultimately need members of the the Trump campaign to undermine the 2016 election.
“From the standpoint of Vladimir Putin, they didn’t really need Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump in order to pursue their conspiracy against the American election, they were perfectly capable of undermining us on their own and they did,” he told Hill.TV.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said they want to concentrate on securing the 2020 election from Russian interference and have already set some measures in motion.
Last year, Reps. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) introduced the Secure Elections Act. The legislation is aimed at helping states secure the nation’s digital election infrastructure against cyberattacks. A companion to the measure is making its way through the Senate.
Both measures were introduced to Congress in direct response to the effort by Russian hackers to target state voting systems during the 2016 election.