Hillary Clinton accused President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., of “abdicating their responsibility” on election security during a pointed speech Tuesday in which she also took aim at Trump for his repeated claims about voter fraud.
In a speech delivered at a conference in Washington, the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nominee applauded the Democratic-led House for passing legislation designed to strengthen election systems in the wake of Russian interference.
Clinton then slammed “Mitch McConnell’s Senate” for not acting on the legislation, which would authorize more than $600 million to update voting equipment to comply with new standards, including requirements that devoting machines produce a paper record, stay disconnected from the Internet and be manufactured in the United States.
“There is no way we can have the kind of secure election that we need without changing our laws and following it up with real investments,” Clinton said. “We have a fundamental set of threats to the bedrock of our democracy, and anyone who stands in the way of confronting those threats – from Mitch McConnell and his allies to the president himself – is abdicating their responsibility to protect and defend the Constitution.”
Clinton cited the conclusion of the report by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election in “sweeping and systematic fashion” in an attempt to benefit Trump, as well as an assessment by Daniel Coats, Trump’s former director of national intelligence, that the interference was continuing.
A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a speech on the Senate floor in late July, McConnell denounced other critics of the Senate’s inaction, some of whom had suggested he was aiding Russia, and argued that steps were being taken by the Trump administration to strengthen election infrastructure.
On Tuesday, McConnell’s office pointed to a letter he sent to Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, in which he lamented “Democrats’ insistence that piling up as much money and power as possible in Washington, D.C., is the answer to every conceivable problem.”
“Unfortunately, election law is no exception,” McConnell wrote. “Many Democrats are trying to use the very real threat of Russian meddling as a Trojan horse for partisan wish-list items that would not actually make our elections safer.”
Earlier Tuesday, Clinton had criticized Trump for remarks at a rally in North Carolina to bolster the Republican candidate in a special congressional election that was held because the regular election was invalidated because of election fraud. Clinton called the fraud “Republican cheating.”
“He didn’t condemn that, of course,” Clinton said of Trump. “Instead he claimed again that voter fraud was rampant in 2016. Sometimes it’s hard to process all of this because he lies so much, but let that sink in: The president of the United States is lying to Americans to delegitimize the democratic process. Yes, of course, it’s abhorrent, it’s delusional – but it’s also strategic. And that should bother every one of us.”
Trump has repeatedly made baseless claims that voter fraud was responsible for Clinton winning the popular vote in 2016. At the North Carolina rally, without evidence, he advanced a claim that undocumented immigrants were involved in massive voter fraud in California.
Clinton’s remarks were delivered at a conference that was billed as a discussion about “democratic norms and institutions” that are “under assault.” The Defense of American Democracy event was co-organizer by the Albert Shanker Institute, the American Federation of Teachers and Onward Together, an organization founded and led by Clinton.
During her remarks, Clinton also said there is “no real effort” being made to improve cybersecurity in the wake of the 2016 campaign, during which Russians hacked into the emails of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman.
Clinton noted that she has met with many of the Democratic candidates running for president.
“I tell every candidate if you have not had your personal and campaign emails hacked, they will be,” she said.
Speaking more broadly, Clinton said the nation is experiencing “a crisis in democracy.”
“Racist and white supremacist views are lifted up in the media and in the White House,” she said. “Hard-fought-for civil rights are being stripped back. The rule of law is being undermined. The norms and institutions that provide the foundation of our democracy are under assault.”