February 18, 2018

Van Hollen Discusses Russian Interference, DETER Act on Morning Joe

WASHINGTON - This morning, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen joined MSNBC's Morning Joe to discuss Russian interference in U.S. elections and his bipartisan bill, the DETER Act, which would impose immediate, harsh sanctions on foreign actors who interfere in future U.S. elections, including through the use of social media. Excerpts of the interview are below and the full video is available here.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: So Senator, you saw the indictments on Friday, I guess that only makes your legislation with Marco Rubio all the more important, doesn't it?

U.S. SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): I think it does. We now know - well we knew all along, obviously, that the Russians had interfered in 2016. The last person on the planet to acknowledge that was, of course, Donald Trump - still having difficulty coming to grips with that. But, what we also know from the Director of National Intelligence Coats, from the Director of the CIA, from Secretary Tillerson is that we expect the Russians the interfere in the midterm elections. So we need to do everything we can to stop that. And that's what this legislation does. It's called the DETER Act - very simple. It says that if they get caught again - if the Director of National Intelligence finds that they've interfered in the 2018 election, or any elections going forward, that you have immediate, automatic, non-waivable sanctions that really hit Russia very hard in the economic sector, the oil sector, the banking sector. So if you're Vladamir Putin, and you're thinking of messing around, you're thinking of hiring another 80 people to attack U.S. democracy, you've got to realize you've got a guillotine coming down in terms of the sanctions.

SCARBOROUGH: Susan, what do you think the impact of Friday's indictments - what do you think the impact it's going to have on the Hill? We've seen Republicans tweeting 'enough,' 'we've got to be aggressive' obviously it seems that Intel chiefs and Republican Senators are trying to get some distance between Donald Trump and themselves on this issue.

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: You know, I think there is more a holding of breath than there is of actual action - I'm not sure this is a moment. While you don't see Republicans, very many elected Republicans, supporting the President. stepping forward to endorse his tweets over the weekend, you also don't see a wave of criticism from Republican office holders and Republican leaders. So I think there's a sense of waiting for the next shoe to drop. And one thing I wonder about, and maybe the Senator would have thoughts on this, is we know this level is a phenomenal sophisticated effort to affect our elections, we know it's ongoing. The midterm election is coming up pretty quick - what is going to be the effect on Americans' trust in this election to be legitimate?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, that's exactly why we need to take action. That's why it's outrageous that President Trump continues to sit back and do absolutely nothing. He can argue about 2016 - I mean, the fact are pretty clear - but nobody should be sitting back given what we're facing in 2018. And we should be hardening our systems, but we also need to be taking this deterrent measure. Because the one thing we know that would have an impact on Putin is if he knows for sure he's going to pay a harsh penalty and if he's going to be punished. And you know, Rubio and I have spoken to the Chairman of the Banking Committee - that's where this sanctions legislation is - and I believe if we all get together, we can get a consensus to get this done.