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Democrats ask GOP to join pledge not to use 'stolen information' in 2020 campaigns

Democrats ask GOP to join pledge not to use 'stolen information' in 2020 campaigns
© Greg Nash

Tom PerezThomas PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, on Monday pledged that his party would not seek out or weaponize “stolen information” in 2020 elections and encouraged his Republican counterpart to do the same.

“As the leaders of our country’s two largest political parties, we have a responsibility to protect the integrity of our democratic process,” Perez wrote in an open letter to Ronna Romney McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee (RNC).

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“That’s why I urge you to join me in condemning the weaponization of stolen private data in our electoral process,” he added.

Questions about the role stolen private data and hacked information played in the 2016 presidential election have continued to swirl in the years since. But despite calls to clamp down on the weaponization of such material, lawmakers have made little headway on legislation on the matter.

Perez’s blog post came days after the Justice Department released a report detailing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE’s investigation into the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

That report confirmed what officials had warned about for over two years: that Moscow was behind a sweeping effort to influence the race between President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' Why does Bernie Sanders want to quash Elon Musk's dreams? Republican legislators target private sector election grants MORE that included the theft of private emails.

The report also detailed several contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russians, but ultimately concluded that those interactions did not establish evidence of a crime.

Without a pledge from both parties to shun hacked or stolen information, Perez warned, Republicans and Democrats risk a repeat of the 2016 election cycle.

“We are now rapidly approaching Election Day 2020. In this age of cyber-warfare, we owe it to the American people to make sure that the election is decided by the will of the voters, not foreign governments,” Perez wrote.

A spokeswoman for the RNC noted that McDaniel has previously denounced the hacking of political organizations and the importance of securing U.S. elections against outside interference, pointing to a July 2018 statement from the chair.

"Any breach of our political organizations — regardless of party — is an affront to all of us, and we should come together as Americans to prevent it from ever happening again," McDaniel said. "It’s important we do all we can to safeguard our future elections."

Democrats and Republicans have in the past sought to address the issue of stolen information as a political weapon.

Last year, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) attempted to hammer out a pact condemning the use of hacked information on the campaign trail.

But those talks ultimately broke down after then-NRCC Chairman Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversFormer Ohio health director won't run for Senate Ohio Democrat Danny O'Connor won't seek Portman's Senate seat Meeting between Trump, Ohio Senate candidates turns tense: report MORE (R-Ohio) accused his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), of speaking to the press in order to obtain “leverage” in the discussions.

Luján eventually signed such a pledge himself and called on Stivers to do the same, though the Ohio Republican never did so.

Perez said that he hoped that 2020 “can be different.”

“This is not about red and blue. This is about red, white, and blue,” he wrote. “It’s about our national security. It’s about the future of our country and the integrity of our democracy. It’s about restoring people’s faith in our institutions and our election process.”

One Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandIntelligence leaders warn of threats from China, domestic terrorism Jon Stewart accuses VA of being 'an obstacle' to burn pits medical care Family policy that could appeal to the right and the left MORE (D-N.Y.), has already taken a similar pledge to not use stolen or hacked material in her campaign. She called on Tuesday for her opponents to follow suit.

“For my part, I vow that our campaign will not seek out stolen hacked information from foreign adversaries or knowingly weaponize such materials, and I urge my colleagues in the 2020 field to join in signing this pledge,” Gillibrand said.

“Together we can send a clear message to those who seek to harm our democracy — at home and abroad."

— Updated at 12:17 p.m.