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McConnell downplays need for more election security legislation ahead of briefing

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell questioned whether further election security legislation is needed ahead of Senate and House briefings on the topic Wednesday.
Democrats have pushed for new election security legislation, seizing on findings from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. But while there is a bipartisan acknowledgment that Russia interfered in the campaign, McConnell and Senate Republicans have thrown cold water on the need to do more.
In a floor speech, McConnell said that while Congress will continue to “assess whether future legislative steps might be needed,” he accused Democrats of making election security a political issue.
“We need to make sure this conversation is clear-eyed and sober and serious,” he said. “It’s interesting that some of our colleagues across the aisle seem to have already made up their minds before we hear from the experts later today. Their brand-new sweeping Washington intervention is just what the doctor ordered.”
McConnell also blamed Obama officials for emboldening Russian President Vladimir Putin to meddle in the 2016 election.
But McConnell has faced scrutiny over his handling of the issue as well. In 2016, the Washington Post reported he expressed doubts about the conclusion from U.S. intelligence agencies about Russian interference in a briefing with Congressional leaders. McConnell denied that he expressed doubts.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer slammed McConnell for blaming the Obama administration Wednesday and accused the majority leader of simply taking up Trump’s talking points.
“The Russians interfered,” he said. “They certainly had conversations with the Trump administration. President Trump encouraged them to interfere publicly. And now, Leader McConnell has the temerity to blame President Obama? What a remarkable feat of revisionist history.”
The briefings are expected to include Trump administration officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. Schumer said they “should be a springboard for action.”
“I was amazed to listen to Republican Leader McConnell this morning, who, before the briefing has even taken place, seems to be pre-judging the results of the meeting, saying that another Washington intervention in this matter is misguided,” Schumer said.
The all-Senate briefing was long sought by from Schumer, who has also called for additional legislation to increase election security. Democrats have tried and failed to previously pass such legislation by voice vote. Schumer also has said he would push for more election security funding as part of budget negotiations.