Trump, Russia, And The 2020 Elections — Four Things We Can Do Now

This piece was originally published on Medium.

While there are limits to what Congress and Democrats can do in the face of an out of control President and his cowardly enablers in the Senate, I offer ideas for four things we should consider doing in the days ahead:

Launch A Broad Security Review — Over the next few months, the four main House Committees concerned with defending the nation — Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Homeland Security — should conduct a broad, coordinated review of the nation’s security in the wake of years of gross mismanagement and corrupt self-dealing by the President and his advisors. The American people have a right to know what has been done in their name, and months of public hearings will help inform the political debate this summer and fall.

Particular focus should be given to the President’s relationship with Russia, and the dramatic steps the President has taken in recent years to support Putin’s ambitions on the global stage. The process should begin next week with hearings about what Russia has been doing to help the President’s re-election, and what steps are being taken to shut down the operation itself and prevent further damage to the election which is currently underway.

Secure Our Elections — Events of recent days have shown how unready we are for what is to come in 2020, and proud patriots of both parties should work to restore the integrity of the ODNI, shut down any foreign influence operation underway here in the United States, re-open the FEC, and pass some of the many bipartisan election security bills Moscow Mitch and the President have been sitting on in the Senate. In a recent opinion piece, NDN called on DHS to establish a “gang of six,” a regular convening of the heads of the six federal political party committees as a way of acknowledging the critical role these institutions play in protecting our elections and domestic discourse.

In that same piece NDN called on the six federal party committees to make two structural changes to better allow them to better manage their new cyber responsibilities:

1) Appoint a Senator or House Member Vice Chair for Cybersecurity and Countering Disinformation from one of the Congressional committees of jurisdiction like Homeland Security or Intelligence. Their subject matter expertise and security clearance will make it easier for the each Party Committee to interact with DHS and the intelligence community, particularly in a time of crisis

2) Hire a Chief Security Officer with a true cyber and technical background and ensure they are in the management team of the committee, a direct report to the executive director or chief executive. The DNC’s appointment of Bob Lord as its CSO is a step in the right direction.

Establish A Bicameral Rule of Law Rump Group — Recently we suggested that leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi appoint a bi-cameral rump group of Democrats whose mission it is to fashion a broad strategy to push back against the President’s assault on the rule of law and help the public understand the gravity of what we are witnessing.

Our thought is to keep it small — under 10 Senators/House Members or so — and start with the former state AGs in the Senate — Blumenthal, Harris, Whitehouse. For more on this idea visit here.

The DNC Should Adopt The Social Media Framework Endorsed By The State Parties — In June of last year the state Democratic Parties endorsed a framework that would govern the use of illicit tactics used by Russia against the Democratic Party in 2016 by Democrats in their own campaigns. The DNC should adopt this framework, and encourage every Democratic campaign to adhere to its requirements in the coming election. Democrats just have to do everything they can to make it more difficult for our politics to descend into an era of what I call “Moscow Rules.”

There has never been a moment like this in American history. Our President aspires to be a king, not just a President, and he is also showing clear signs of mental decline and what may best be called madness. There are no pivots from this awful reality, no waiting for Mueller, no “let’s focus on health care.” This is an all hands on deck moment in the history of our Republic, and Congress must do more than express concern — it must act. I’ve offered some ideas on how to proceed, but whatever the plan it must begin in the days ahead.