After Helsinki, Focus on Protecting US Elections This Fall

NBC News.com has just published Simon’s latest essay, Trump wants to be seen as strong on Putin post-Helsinki. Focusing on election reforms is a start. It looks at the sophisticated Russian attacks on our elections and makes recommendations for what Congress and the Administration can do right now to ensure what happened in 2016 doesn’t happen again in 2018. Here's an excerpt from the piece:

"In what has been a monstrous dereliction of duty by the president and his party, America does not have a clear plan for how to prevent a repeat of Russia’s 2016 active measures campaign this year. Two sensible, bipartisan bills to protect our elections from future interference, the Secure Elections Act and DETER Act, have never been brought up for a vote by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and no election protection legislation has been produced by House Republicans. There is no single person in charge of protecting our elections and domestic discourse. The cyber coordinator position in the White House has been eliminated. The Secretary of Homeland Security publicly broke from the rest of the U.S. intelligence community in May and said that she does not believe that Russia acted on behalf of a particular political candidate or party in 2016 and, last weekend, she also downplayed the Russian threat to our elections a day after the Director of National Intelligence issued a dramatic warning about Russia’s ongoing measures in the U.S.

All of this leaves America unacceptably exposed this fall. While there isn’t enough time for big changes, Congress should pass and the president should sign at least one of the many election protection bills which have been introduced this year. It will be an indicator to the public and to the world the U.S. is taking all of this seriously. Additionally, the president should appoint an elections protection coordinator to oversee our efforts to prevent Russia from striking again. This person should be in the White House and have enough authority to convene all relevant U.S. government stakeholders. Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., proposed such a move earlier this week, and it should be implemented immediately."