January 16, 2018

Van Hollen Discusses New Bipartisan Legislation to Deter Foreign Interference in U.S. Elections

This morning, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) joined MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle to discuss the bipartisan DETER Act, legislation he and Senator Rubio introduced today. This bill aims to prevent future attacks on American elections by proposing severe, tangible consequences on foreign governments or actors if they interfere in U.S. elections. Highlights of his interview are below and video of the full interview is available here.

STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC: New this morning, two Senators have just introduced, wait for it, bipartisan legislation to fight foreign interferences in U.S. elections -- setting out clear consequences for any nation attempting to undermine the democratic process in this country. Joining me now is one of those Senators behind the bill, Democrat Chris Van Hollenof Maryland. Good morning, sir. You and Republican Senator Marco Rubio have joined forces to introduce the DETER Act. What is it? What kind of consequences are you proposing? Because at its face, it seems like a no brainer. Who wouldn't want this?

SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, D-MD: Well, I hope that's the case. Because this is aimed at preventing interference in our elections on a forward-looking basis. There's been, obviously, a lot of investigation into what happened in the last election, but Senator Rubio and I have teamed up to say we need to put in place a clear deterrent to interference going forward. And we do that with respect to any country, but especially with respect to Russia. Here's how it works: within [30] days of the next election, the Director of National Intelligence has to report to Congress as to whether or not there's been interference by the Russians or others. And if the finding is yes, as it was in this last election, then very severe sanctions automatically go into place -- sanctions on Russian banks, sanctions on Russian oil industry. These are very hard-hitting sanctions. So, Russia would have to think very long and hard before interfering in our future elections because the penalties would be very severe.

RUHLE: Alright, well, you and Senator Rubio laid sort of this out in an op-ed in this morning's Washington Post. And I want to share a bit, where you write, "There's no reason to think this meddling will be an isolated incident. In fact, we expect the threat will grow in future years. The United States must do everything possible to prevent these attacks in the future." Senator, be honest with me, this is a great piece that the two of you co-wrote. But when you and Marco Rubio are sitting there working on this together, do you not have conversations about how the President has handled all this? You might not have a direct dialogue with the President, but Marco Rubio certainly does.

VAN HOLLEN: Well sure he does. And he's has been very outspoken about Russian interference in our elections -- both in the past election but also the need to stop it. That's why we teamed up to look forward to the next election. Because I believe if Congress passes this legislation, it could very well deter Russian interference because the penalties are automatic and very large. And so if you're Vladimir Putin thinking about this, you have to consider the hit to your economy.