Editorials: ‘An Attack On The Nation Needs A National Response’: Lawmakers And Election Security | Alex Schroeder/WBUR

Robert Mueller was consistent on one point during his congressional testimony last week: Russian interference in U.S. elections is one of the most serious threats to American democracy he’s seen in his long career. On Wednesday, during testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, asked the former special counsel if he thought “this was a single attempt by the Russians to get involved in our election,” or there was “evidence to suggest that they’ll try to do this again?” “Oh, it wasn’t a single attempt,” Mueller responded. “They’re doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign.” The very next day, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan report saying that Russia probably attempted to infiltrate election systems in all 50 states. Also last week: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blocked two election security bills that made it out of committee with bipartisan support. In other words, a moment of potential bipartisanship is becoming partisan anyway, as the 2020 election looms.

Editorials: Protecting American elections from sabotage is apparently now a partisan issue | Los Angeles Times

Securing American elections against foreign interference — including by Russian computer hackers breaking into U.S. election infrastructure — ought to be an urgent and bipartisan priority. But thanks to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate is about to leave Washington without acting on proposals to make it harder for Russia and other foreign actors to meddle. Meanwhile, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who took the threat of foreign election meddling more seriously than the president who appointed him, has announced that he is resigning. President Trump proposes to replace him with Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), a Trump loyalist who attracted attention last week when he chastised former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III for saying that he couldn’t exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice. Taken together, these developments raise a concern that Washington won’t respond appropriately to a repetition — or escalation — of what Mueller described as a “sweeping and systematic” interference by Russia in the 2016 election. Mueller told the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia was already interfering in the 2020 election “as we sit here.”

Editorials: Why is Sen. Roy Blunt so nonchalant about cyber threats and 2020 election security? | The Kansas City Star

Remember how we went straight from “Ha ha, no reason to worry about so-called climate change,” to “Well, too late now to do anything about catastrophic climate change?” It’s still not too late to mitigate the damage, though. And let’s not let that same flawed thinking keep us from doing what we can, even at this late date, to minimize the serious threat of foreign cyber attacks ahead of next year’s election. As former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony last week reminded us, we’re in urgent need of the bipartisan election security legislation that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he has no intention of letting go forward. Could Russia intervene in another election, Mueller was asked. “They’re doing it as we sit here,” he answered, while “many more countries” race to catch up to Russia’s ability to compromise our democracy. Should one of these other countries ever attempt an incursion on behalf of a Democrat, we’re guessing that McConnell would not be quite so “c’est la vie.”

Editorials: What Will It Take for Congress to Protect America’s Elections? | The New York Times

Testifying before Congress this week about his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, seemed eager — desperate, even — to drive home one message: foreign adversaries are intent on undermining American democracy, and the United States is still vulnerable to them. Even as Mr. Mueller declined to elaborate on most of his findings, he was unequivocal in warning that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential race, that it aims to do so again — “They’re doing it as we sit here,” he said — and that “many more countries” are developing similar capabilities. Declaring foreign interference “among the most serious” challenges to American democracy, he urged those with “responsibility in this area” to act “swiftly.” Mr. Mueller is right to be worried. While progress has been made in safeguarding the nation’s electoral system, partisan bickering has impeded Congress from enacting a range of important reforms, from improving coordination between state and federal authorities to upgrading election infrastructure to closing loopholes in campaign finance laws. As is often the case, the legislative bottleneck is in the Republican-controlled Senate, but both parties have done their part to politicize the issue.

Editorials: Count every vote and count them all by hand | Tim Canova/South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The Florida advisory committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a public hearing last week on voter disenfranchisement in downtown Fort Lauderdale. I was privileged to speak on the issues surrounding my two campaigns against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. First, voter disenfranchisement is a serious issue. Too many…

Editorials: Mueller gave a warning on Russian meddling. Congress — and America — should listen. | Washington Post

IF THERE is one thing former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III made clear in his Wednesday congressional testimony, it is that his investigation was not an “illegal and treasonous attack on our Country,” as President Trump characterized it in a tweet shortly before Mr. Mueller’s appearance. On the contrary, Mr. Mueller underscored that it was Russia that attacked the country’s democracy in the 2016 presidential election through a cyber-campaign designed to help Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump, the former special counsel confirmed, welcomed that assistance. A number of his top aides lied in the ensuing investigation. Those lies, Mr. Mueller said, impeded his probe. Perhaps most seriously, Mr. Mueller said Russia’s interference is continuing and will be repeated in the 2020 presidential election. “Over the course of my career, I have seen a number of challenges to our democracy,” Mr. Mueller said. “The Russian government’s effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious.” He added: “They’re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign.” What’s more, “many more countries” are also looking at election hacking.

Editorials: Why is election security a partisan issue? | Pierluigi Stella/SC Media

Frankly I never thought that securing the elections would be a partisan issue.  But then, why am I surprised?  Anything that touches Washington becomes a partisan issue.  Securing the elections, ensuring ballot machines can’t be hacked, and ensuring voter registration data isn’t altered or deleted should be a common goal for everyone in Washington. Elections are the core of a democracy; if we lose faith in that process, our very existence as a democratic country is in jeopardy.  And yet, politicians find ways to spar also on these issues.  The GOP wants to just send money to the states and allow them to do what they choose, as long as they generically “secure the infrastructure.”  I guess they forget that we have 50 states and this approach would likely lead to 50 different approaches, an enormous waste of money and resources, and poor results across the board. It is clear that I prefer the Democrats’ approach.  States need to be told what to do, i.e. they need to be held to a certain level of security standards; and this is achieved by setting clear policies and precise requirements. 

Editorials: Mueller testimony reminds us everyone except Trump knows Russians interfered in election | Paul Rosenzweig/USA Today

Before she was ousted by President Donald Trump, former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said: “Two years ago, a foreign power launched a brazen, multi-faceted influence campaign … to distort our presidential election. … Let me be clear: Our intelligence community had it right. It was the Russians.” Everybody knows this. The only person who still has doubts is President Trump. When he testifies before Congress on Wednesday, former special counsel Robert Mueller has a unique opportunity to set the record straight and lay out the case for Russian election interference before the American public. Mueller’s testimony will be a watershed moment if facts still matter.  Mueller’s testimony is important not because he’s a Democrat or a Republican, not because he delivers snappy soundbites or long, carefully constructed sentences, and not because one may favor impeachment or oppose it: It matters because the country must come to grips with the things Mueller found that should trouble us about an adversary Russia, and a campaign and a president who welcomed Russia’s help.

Editorials: People privy to the intelligence are convinced another electoral attack is coming | Greg Sargent/The Washington Post

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had a conversation with Vox’s Kara Swisher that should worry anyone who thinks our elections should be free from foreign interference. Needless to say, this evidently doesn’t include President Trump, who has basically invited another round of foreign electoral sabotage, or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who refuses to allow the Senate to vote on any of the numerous bills that have been proposed to shore up our political system against such sabotage. So that basically rules out any serious legislative response in advance of the next attack. But what remains striking is how convinced Democrats who have seen the intelligence are that this is really going to happen. Schiff points out that Facebook recently refused to remove a viral video that was edited to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) look drunk, and notes that neither the tech companies nor our own government are prepared:

“The tech companies aren’t ready,” Schiff said. “They don’t have, I think, their policies fully thought out yet. The government isn’t ready. We don’t have the technologies yet to be able to detect more sophisticated fakes.”

“And the public, by and large, when you bring up ‘deepfake,’ they don’t know what you’re referring to,” he added. “And so we don’t have much time. It’s eight months until the primaries begin to try to prepare the public, prepare ourselves, determine what other steps need to be taken to protect ourselves from this kind of disinformation.”

Editorials: What Happens If the 2020 Election Is a Tie? | Norm Ornstein/The Atlantic

What happens if the 2020 presidential election is very close? Polls suggest that’s a real possibility. And it’s a question that should shape the strategy of the Democratic Party, not just at the top of the ticket, but in the down-ballot races that could ultimately determine who sits in the White House. If Donald Trump wins battleground states such as Wisconsin, Arizona, and Florida, he can lose Pennsylvania and Michigan, and lose the popular vote by 5 million or more, but still win the Electoral College by a single vote, as David Wasserman of “The Cook Political Report” has noted. If a congressional district in Nebraska or Maine were to vote for a Democrat, there could be a tie. Even if the result is not that close, it is possible to imagine a nightmare scenario in multiple states like what we saw in Florida in 2000—in this case, contests about electoral votes that might have a state legislature endorsing a different set of electors than the popular-vote count mandates, or contests about popular votes and provisional ballots stretching beyond the deadline for an official electoral count. With the stakes so high, with tribal identities overcoming norms of behavior, with many legislatures in states such as Wisconsin and North Carolina having already taken extraordinary, antidemocratic steps to cling to power, it is not fanciful to imagine such situations.

Editorials: Why America must take the fight against cyberterrorism seriously | Joseph Moreno and Sam Curry/The Hill

cording to the Justice Department, a team of hackers sponsored by North Korea spent years infiltrating American companies to steal trade secrets and intellectual property. We know from the investigation of former special counsel Robert Mueller that Russian military intelligence groups hacked computer systems in the United States and spread social media disinformation to impact the 2016 election. More recently, we learned of a campaign by hackers backed by the Chinese government to spy on individuals through cyberattacks on global carrier companies. These may not be traditional acts of war. But make no mistake, they are hostile military grade actions against our companies, our government, and the public by foreign adversaries, and they are only getting worse. The United States is in a de facto state of war that is no less real for it being fought on a digital rather than a traditional battlefield. If a foreign army killed American citizens at home or abroad, there is no question that a conventional military response would be called for. Every nation has the right to defend itself against an armed attack under the United Nations charter. Similarly, if a foreign country was found to have supported a terrorist group in carrying out a violent assault against Americans, most would agree that some form of military retaliation would be warranted.

Editorials: Facebook is ripe for exploitation – again – in 2020 | Siva Vaidhyanathan/The Guardian

We won’t need Russia in 2020. We will hijack our democracy ourselves. And Facebook is sure to be a major factor in that hijacking – once again. The platform is ripe for further exploitation by domestic forces bent on distorting the political conversation and stirring up irrational passions in a way sure to benefit Donald Trump’s re-election efforts. The continued proliferation of white supremacists on Facebook, and its refusal to block a heavily doctored video of House speaker Nancy Pelosi, are just the latest demonstrations of Facebook’s cowardice. Despite scrutiny in the three years since Facebook’s troublesome role in Trump’s 2016 election – embedding Facebook staff in the campaign itself, hosting millions of dollars of targeted ad spending, and distributing false and divisive messages sponsored by Russia and meant to divide the United States and promote Trump – Facebook remains vulnerable to the sorts of divisive propaganda that motivate nationalist and authoritarian movements. This was evident in recent elections in Brazil, Italy, and India, where nationalist forces assumed power with the aid of Facebook-centric election campaigns filled with vitriol and conspiracy theories. Such propaganda starts with a concerted effort using platforms other than Facebook, such as Reddit, YouTube, state-sponsored systems like Russia’s RT, or private media like Fox News in the US. The messages then migrate to Facebook, with its 220 million American users and 2.4 billion users worldwide. Once there, Facebook’s algorithms take over, amplifying extremist content and connecting susceptible people who might never otherwise find each other. It’s a complex ecosystem that can’t be examined properly by isolating its elements. What happens on Reddit and Fox changes Facebook, and what happens on Facebook changes Reddit and Fox.

Editorials: One Lesson From the Katz-Cabán Recount | The New York Times

New York, long home to some of the more arcane, incumbent-protecting election laws in the country, has made rapid progress in bolstering the right to vote. In recent months, the State Legislature enacted early voting, passed a measure to automatically transfer a voter’s registration if she moves within the state and gave initial authorization for a constitutional amendment to make absentee voting easier. But when lawmakers left Albany last month, some of the work remained unfinished — 31 election-related bills that have been approved by the Legislature but have not been signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The importance of at least one of those measures has become clear since last month’s Democratic primary for district attorney in Queens ended with a razor-thin margin that set off an automatic recount. Tiffany Cabán, a public defender, declared victory on election night, June 25, with a margin of some 1,100 votes. But several days later, after election officials reviewed the roughly 6,300 paper ballots cast, Borough President Melinda Katz was ahead by 20 votes.

Editorials: What’s really been done since the 2016 elections to make voting more secure? Almost nothing. | Paula Dockery/South Florida Sun-Sentinel

We know from the Mueller Report that Russia did interfere in our 2016 election and that those efforts continue today. We also know that attempts were made in at least two Florida counties to breach their voter rolls. Before this, officials in Florida had denied that breaches had occurred. We’re told by those briefed by the FBI the attempts to hack were unsuccessful and no votes or vote tallies were changed. But is that true? Is that really what the FBI said? Clearly, they don’t want citizens to lose faith in the integrity of our elections, but there are problems and we’re not getting straight answers. Those who were briefed signed nondisclosure forms to keep that information from us. What the hell is going on here? I don’t want to be an alarmist, but I’m skeptical about past elections and about the upcoming election in 2020. We know Russia has an interest in sowing chaos and dissension in our country. I suspect it is not alone. They hacked into systems to steal data and worked through the Internet—especially on social media—to influence and misinform during the 2016 campaign. But what about the election itself? Were votes changed or deleted? Were tallies adjusted?

Editorials: Enact election-security reforms now | The Seattle Times

Last week’s Democratic debates were an important marker on the road to the 2020 election. They were also a reminder that time is quickly running out for Congress to enact legislation that will safeguard against foreign actors’ attempts to manipulate the results. There is ample evidence of Russian agents’ multipronged attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. U.S. intelligence agencies warn that such interference continues with the FBI director calling it a “significant counterintelligence threat.” And in a recent Associated Press poll, more than half of Americans said there they were very concerned about foreign meddling in U.S. elections. Much of the blame for congressional inaction on this issue has been rightly laid at the feet of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who has refused to allow elections security bills to see the light of day. At the same time, Congress’ shotgun approach is not helping. Lawmakers must focus their attention on bipartisan solutions and stop wasting time on bills doomed to fail along party lines.

Editorials: The U.S. isn’t prepared to fend off foreign meddling in 2020. We need a national strategy | Casey Corcoran, Bo Julie Crowley and Raina Davis/Los Angeles Times

Russia’s 2016 election interference operation was a clumsy collection of fake memes and leaked emails. Still, it divided American society, eroded trust in national institutions and caught Washington flat-footed. A new wave of sophisticated, artificial-intelligence-enabled influence campaigns is surely headed our way in 2020, yet the United States is nowhere near ready. Continued division over the meaning of meddling in 2016 must not eclipse what should be a clear bipartisan priority — a national strategy to combat malicious foreign influence. The tip of the influence operations spear is found in the Asia-Pacific region, yet few are paying attention. Working with the Defending Digital Democracy project at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, we conducted more than 30 interviews with government officials, journalists and civil society members in Taiwan and found that Taiwanese society is saturated with Chinese disinformation and influence.

Editorials: Election security: The dire issue the Democrats barely mentioned | Dick Polman/WHYY

How was it possible that 20 Democrats, vying to appear on the 2020 ballot, debated last week for four hours without ever assailing the Republicans’ steadfast refusal to protect the 2020 ballot from Russian interference? Didn’t that dire issue warrant at least a few substantive minutes? Mitch McConnell, the GOP Senate leader who’s seemingly determined to do Vladimir Putin’s bidding, continues to block all Democratic reform efforts — including a requirement that all states use backup paper ballots to thwart a cyber-invasion (New Jersey and Delaware don’t have them, nor do most Pennsylvania jurisdictions — although all three states are moving towards buying new voting machines). Candidate Amy Klobuchar, a paper-ballot reformer, zinged McConnell in a random sentence, entrepreneur Andrew Yang said the Russians “have been hacking our democracy successfully and they’ve been laughing their asses off,” and Bill de Blasio said, “we need to stop them” — but you’d have to scour the transcripts with a magnifying glass to find much more. Elizabeth Warren unveiled an election security plan early last week, but, during the debate, she never mentioned it.

Editorials: The 2020 issue that matters is democracy itself | E.J. Dionne Jr./The Washington Post

The future of U.S. democracy will be on the ballot next year. No one should pretend otherwise. We witnessed President Trump’s obvious disdain for democratic rights and liberties once again last week during his warm encounter in Japan with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. And the Supreme Court’s partisan, antidemocratic decision on gerrymandering, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., showed how dangerous it would be to expand a right-wing majority hellbent on making our system less inclusive, less fair and less equal. For these reasons, Democratic primary voters should not be knocked for making “electability” their highest criterion in picking a presidential candidate.

Editorials: U.S. cyber attacks raise oversight questions | Gregory D. Vuksich/Albuquerque Journal

Media reports … (June 17, CNN) revealed that “the U.S. is escalating cyber attacks on Russia’s electric power grid and has placed potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system.” Presumably in response to Moscow’s apparent cyber efforts to influence this country’s 2016 presidential election, this action is apparently “intended partly as a warning and also to put the U.S. in a position to conduct cyber attacks should a significant conflict arise with Russia.” The obvious first question is whether pre-positioning a physically destructive offensive capability inside another country’s critical national infrastructure is an appropriate escalatory step in the cyber relationship between the world’s two most highly armed nuclear powers. While this country certainly must address the evident Russian attempt to influence America’s 2016 electoral outcome via fake internet plants – a manifestation in which Americans themselves indulged – is the threat of physical destruction of Russia’s critical infrastructure credible, excessive and/or dangerous? And, one now wonders where the next steps along this escalatory path might go given the Stuxnet attack on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure understood to have been executed by the U.S. and Israel. Does this suggest that the escalatory threshold for further cyber violence between nuclear powers may not be as high as currently thought?

Editorials: Florida must double down on vote security | The Daytona Beach News-Journal

The growing recognition in state government that more must be done — and soon — to secure Florida voting systems from tampering and disruption is a promising thing to see. But so much more remains to be done. Last week Gov. Ron DeSantis announced new plans for assessment, monitoring and training to help both the state Division of Elections and Florida’s 67 county supervisors of elections. They included a welcome do-over for getting federal funds to the beleaguered elections supervisor. Some $2.3 million that had gone unspent now will go to local programs for enhancing election security. And that’s in addition to the $2.8 million just appropriated by the Florida Legislature. Which means more help is on the way. “This has become an issue in the last couple of months in a way that I did not, and really nobody, appreciated,” the governor said at a press conference.

Editorials: Venezuela’s insecure elections have caused political uproar | Kristen Nyman/The Detroit News

Venezuela uses what has been referred to as the most secure voting system in the world. Its Smartmatic voting machines are theoretically tamper-proof, requiring biometric voter authentication twice during the process. The system operates offline during the time votes are cast, so any direct attempts by hackers to change votes are rendered ineffective. The machines generate paper copies of votes, which are placed in a secure lockbox and counted manually multiple times for verification. Voter-verified paper trails are generated in the form of take-home receipts. Finally, the system is auditable at every stage of the vote. On the surface, it is difficult to see how the voting process could be more secure. Yet despite this impressive level of security, Venezuelans are violently protesting in the streets less than a year after the vast majority apparently elected President Nicolas Maduro using these highly secure Smartmatic machines. This begs the question: How did Maduro go from winning with almost 70 percent of the vote one year to hanging onto his presidency by a thread the next? The short answer is that Maduro never had the support of the people to begin with, and that his second term was the result of a fraudulent election.

Editorials: Did Russian hackers make 2016 North Carolina voters disappear? Why won’t we stop this for 2020? | Will Bunch/Philadelphia Inquirer

As 2016′s do-or-die presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton drew near, many students at North Carolina Central University, a historically black institution in the city of Durham, couldn’t wait to cast their ballots, to Soar to the Polls, in the name of an early-voting rally staged by campus activists. “These Millennials are not alienated,” Jarvis Hall, an NCCC poli-sci professor, said when the rally was held late that October. “They are engaged, involved and concerned, and they want to draw attention to and take advantage of the early voting.” But those students who instead waited until the fateful Election Day of November 8, 2016, to vote at a campus polling place didn’t soar, but instead came in for a crash landing. Susan Greenhalgh, the executive director of an alliance called the National Election Defense Coalition, was manning a national voting hotline that morning and her phone was ablaze with calls from all over North Carolina and especially from Durham, a Democratic enclave in a purple battleground state.

Editorials: Ohioans must act to keep the 2020 elections secure against foreign interference | David Salvo/cleveland.com

In less than 17 months, Ohioans will go to the polls to vote in the 2020 presidential election. An all-important swing state, Ohio will once again be the focus of many presidential candidates, national and international reporters, campaign volunteers and political pundits. But Ohio will likely be a target of more nefarious actors, too. Authoritarian governments are still seeking to undermine Americans’ confidence in our elections. Yet, there are vulnerabilities we have yet to address as a nation, all with consequences for the health of our democracy. Ohioans already have experienced election interference from foreign actors. In 2016, Russian government trolls sought to influence Ohioans’ opinions on presidential candidates and key political and social issues. These trolls used numerous tactics, such as impersonating real Ohio media outlets that looked and sounded legitimate, but were actually fake. These falsified accounts gained thousands of followers on Twitter.

Editorials: Russia’s election interference is no longer a surprise. It should still infuriate. | The Washington Post

Russia’s meddling with democracy no longer comes as a surprise. It should, nevertheless, continue to provoke anger, outrage and a determination to respond. Observers predicted that last month’s elections for European Parliament would offer a window on a new era of disinformation. Now, European Union officials have rendered a verdict that suggests the Kremlin kept itself busy — engaging not in any grand cross-border campaign but in sustained interference on a smaller scale that may be even harder to root out. Worse, others followed its lead. The E.U. report and concurrent outside research show that the enemy is evolving. Gone are the days when vast networks of false-identity accounts and their automated counterparts worked en masse to spread tales of events that never occurred or malicious lies about public figures. Now, operations are more localized and harder to detect. They feature what experts call narrative warfare, pushing polarizing and distorted variations of otherwise true stories, stripped of context, rather than outright fabrications. The tactic is tougher both for platforms to detect and for governments to legislate against.

Editorials: We still have questions about whether Russia meddled in North Carolina. That’s a bad sign. | The Washington Post

Since it became clear that the Russian government meddled in the 2016 presidential election, intelligence officials have warned regularly that the United States remains vulnerable to another cyberattack. If the aftermath of an Election Day fiasco in North Carolina is any indication, the Trump administration and Congress still have much to do to prepare the nation for next year’s vote. A Post investigation detailed how North Carolina officials have desperately sought information and help from the Department of Homeland Security following a possible Election Day 2016 breach, in which Durham County’s electronic poll books, which provide information on eligible voters, improperly rejected people at their polling places. Election officials resorted to using paper-based poll books, creating massive delays. If a malicious foreign actor wanted to promote havoc on Election Day or call election results into question, this is one way it might happen.

Editorials: Norway, if you’re listening: Feel free to hack our presidential race | Doyle McManus/Los Angeles Times

Just about every cybersecurity expert agrees that Russia is likely to meddle again in next year’s presidential election — and other governments may try too. And why shouldn’t they? The cost is laughably low, and they face few if any penalties if they’re caught. After all, President Trump says he’d welcome an offer from a foreign government to slip him derogatory information about his opponents. “If somebody called from a country — Norway — [saying,] ‘We have information on your opponent,’ I think I’d want to hear it,” the president told ABC News last week. “It’s not an interference. They have information, I think I’d take it.” Trump had every chance to say he’d reject a backdoor offer from a country more worrisome than Norway — Russia, for example. But he didn’t. Instead, he resorted to one of his favorite schoolyard defenses: Everybody does it; don’t be a chump. That undercut officials in his own administration who have warned foreign powers that messing in our elections will be considered a hostile act. And it distressed at least some Republicans in Congress who don’t relish being branded the Party that Welcomes Help In Elections from Foreign Intelligence Agencies.

Editorials: Mitch McConnell, Too, Welcomes Russian Interference | Jamelle Bouie/The New York Times

Why won’t Mitch McConnell protect our elections from outside interference? His Republican colleagues in the Senate want to do something. That’s why some of the most conservative members of his caucus are working with Democrats to improve the nation’s election security. One proposal, according to The New York Times, would “require internet companies like Facebook to disclose the purchasers of political ads.” Another, devised by Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, would “impose mandatory sanctions on anyone who attacks an American election.” Yet another, the brainchild of Senators James Lankford of Oklahoma and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, would “codify cyber information-sharing initiatives between federal intelligence services and state election officials.”

Editorials: Foreign Election Interference Is Wrong, President Trump | Michael R. Bloomberg/Bloomberg

It was extraordinary to hear a U.S. president declare that the FBI director is “wrong” for saying that candidates should report to the FBI — as the law clearly intends — any effort by foreign agents to aid a political candidate by passing along opposition research. President Trump does not understand the value of the law prohibiting campaigns from such aid, nor does he appear to have any intention of following it. For all the different interpretations of the Mueller report, there is one aspect of it where there should be no debate among Republicans and Democrats: The threat of foreign meddling in U.S. elections has increased, it must not be tolerated or abetted, and campaigns must be held accountable for assisting in policing this national security imperative. On this issue, the standard for ethical and patriotic behavior should not be whether someone engages in a criminal conspiracy. It should be whether someone acts with honor in rebuffing — and reporting — attempts at foreign influence. That did not happen in 2016, and unless Congress acts soon, we may see an even worse breach in 2020. The National Republican Campaign Committee has refused to pledge, as its Democratic counterpart has, not to use hacked or stolen materials. And now the president has indicated that his re-election campaign would be open to using them, too. The Russians — to say nothing of the North Koreans — must be grinning ear to ear.

Editorials: How not to handle security threats to our elections | Jessica Brandt/Slate

In the weeks before the 2016 presidential election, a Florida company known as VR Systems fell victim to a Russian spear-phishing campaign. Most Americans have never heard of VR Systems, but it runs poll books—the registries that election workers use to track who is eligible to vote and who has already voted—for counties in eight states around the country. The hackers used the information they gathered from VR Systems to breach two of the Florida county election systems the company managed. And three years later, new reporting suggests that VR Systems may also have inadvertently put Russians in a position to alter voter rolls in North Carolina, another swing state, on the eve of the 2016 presidential election. By using remote-access software to connect directly to election systems, troubleshooters at VR Systems opened a gap that could have been exploited by hackers already in their system. Only now is a federal investigation into whether that actually occurred underway.