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Yang compares U.S. election tampering to Russia's election interference efforts

Yang compares U.S. election tampering to Russia's election interference efforts
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Democratic presidential candidate Andrew YangAndrew YangYang to quarantine after campaign staffer tests positive for COVID-19 Andrew Yang sparks Twitter uproar with pro-bodega video Yang announces run for New York City mayor MORE on Tuesday night said that the U.S. has "tampered with other elections" in calling for action to be taken to deter Russia from interfering in the 2020 election.

“We have to let Russia know, look, we get it, we’ve tampered with other elections, you’ve tampered with our elections, and now it has to stop, and if it does not stop we will take this as an act of hostility against the American people," Yang said during the Democratic primary debate.

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Yang described Russian hacking efforts ahead of the 2016 U.S. elections as "an illustration of the 21st century threats" such as cybersecurity and climate change, vowing to help "pull us forward" in addressing these issues.

Democratic candidate Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDemocrats swear in three senators to gain majority Congressional leaders present Biden, Harris with flags flown during inauguration LIVE INAUGURATION COVERAGE: Biden signs executive orders; press secretary holds first briefing MORE (Minn.), one the main Senate Democrats to push for action on election security over the past several months, pushed back strongly against Yang's assertion that the U.S. and Russia were equal in terms of election interference against other nations.

“I don’t see a moral equivalency between our country and Russia," Klobuchar said, adding that Russian interference in 2016 was "much more serious" than "meddling," and that Russia's actions constituted an "invasion" of U.S. elections.

Klobuchar called for the use of paper ballot backups in every state to prevent election meddling by Russian actors, and also urged passage of legislation to prevent social media companies from running political advertisements without disclosing to users who paid for them.

Specifically, Klobuchar urged passage of the Honest Ads Act, a bill she introduced earlier this year with Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSocial media posts, cellphone data aid law enforcement investigations into riots 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Confirmation hearing for Biden's DNI pick postponed MORE (D-Va.).

This legislation, which has not seen movement in the Senate, would change the language of the Federal Election Campaign Act to require the sponsors of ads to be disclosed “in any public communication” instead of specific mediums. It would also require all social media sites with more than 50 million monthly visitors to maintain a public file of all political ads purchased for more than $500.

"We can't wait to become president to get that done, we need to get that done now," Klobuchar said Tuesday night of action to bolster election security. 

Other Democratic presidential candidates including former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenKaty Perry and her 'Firework' close out inauguration TV special Arizona Republican's brothers say he is 'at least partially to blame' for Capitol violence Tom Hanks: After years of 'troubling rancor,' Inauguration Day 'is about witnessing the permanence of our American ideal' MORE, former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeBoebert appears to carry gun on Capitol Hill in new ad 7 surprise moments from a tumultuous year in politics Mexican president breaks with other world leaders, refusing to acknowledge Biden win until election is finalized MORE (Texas), Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerSenate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Booker brings girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson, to inauguration Officials brace for second Trump impeachment trial MORE (N.J.), and billionaire philanthropist Tom SteyerTom SteyerOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far Late donor surges push election spending projections to new heights MORE also discussed Russian efforts to interfere in U.S. elections during the debate, with O'Rourke saying, "We must be in charge of holding Russia accountable for invading our democracy."

Democrats in both the House and Senate have pushed hard for further action to be taken to secure U.S. elections over the past several months, particularly following the release of the report on Russia's 2016 interference efforts by former 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, and of reports on these efforts that have recently been released by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

While the House has passed two major election security bills, and plans to take up another later this month, the Senate Republicans have blocked the majority of proposed bills, citing concerns around federalizing elections.