Crackdown on election meddling stalls in Congress

Efforts to combat election meddling in the aftermath of the Mueller report are running into steep political headwinds on Capitol Hill.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling 448-page report detailed Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election and sparked fresh calls for tougher sanctions against Moscow or new election security measures.

But any initial boost of momentum is now hitting roadblocks with top GOP senators and stalemated partisan standoffs, underscoring the uphill battle for a legislative push leading to the 2020 election.

“I think there’s a lot we can do without passing new legislation,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of GOP leadership and the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The House has taken more of an attitude of: Don’t let a crisis go to waste.”

Asked about the chances of passing sanctions or election security legislation, Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said, “We’ll see.”

“Some of our members are talking about more sanctions. We’ll see where it goes,” he said. “On the election security stuff … I think we feel confident based on the fact that our elections in this country are basically local, that … ┬áit ensures a certain amount of accountability.”

Lawmakers have raised concerns about Russia’s election meddling for years, but Mueller’s findings put the spotlight on what, if any, steps Congress will take in response.

The special counsel dedicated roughly 200 pages of his report to detailing Russia’s hacking attempts, social media activities and contacts with the Trump campaign, while noting that “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government.”

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