GOP still won't join Democrats in campaign pledge not to use hacked materials

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Republicans are refusing to budge, despite intelligence officials' warnings that Russia is already interfering in the 2020 election.

It has been more than 300 days since Democrats asked Republicans to sign a pledge not to use hacked or stolen materials in the 2020 campaign. And Republicans still refuse to sign it.

The latest refusal came on Friday, amid reports that Russia is once again interfering in an American election.

In a closed-door briefing earlier this month, intelligence officials with the Trump administration told members of Congress that Russia is attempting to interfere in the 2020 election with the goal of helping Donald Trump win, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

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The news prompted the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to renew a request to its Republican counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, to sign the pledge against using ill-gotten materials.

Rep. Cherri Bustos (D-IL), chair of the DCCC, initially sent a letter to Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), chair of the NRCC, in April 2019, asking that both groups jointly commit to rejecting the use of any hacked or stolen material in the 2020 campaign.

The request came shortly after the release of the Mueller Report, which concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in an attempt to help Trump win.

In the years since Trump said he would accept foreign interference in the 2020 election if it would benefit his campaign.

"If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] 'we have information on your opponent, oh, I think I'd want to hear it," Trump said in June 2019.

Shortly after Trump's admission, the chair of the Federal Election Commission released a statement reminding all candidates that it is illegal to solicit or accept anything of value from a foreign national as it relates to elections.

In 2019, Bustos correctly predicted that after Russia's previous interference, "we have no doubt they will attempt to do so once again."

Besides a ban on using materials known to be hacked or stolen in campaigns, the pledge asks signers to report any foreign actors attempting to interfere in elections to proper law enforcement authorities and it calls on state election officers to protect election systems.

In refusing to sign the pledge, the NRCC "is laying out the welcome mat for foreign adversaries looking to interfere in our elections," Robyn Patterson, spokesperson for the DCCC, said in a Friday statement.

In essence, Emmer is "giving foreign adversaries exactly what they want: an open invitation to damage the integrity of our elections," Patterson added.

Also on Friday, the Washington Post reported that U.S. officials informed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that Russia was attempting to interfere in the 2020 Democratic primary in order to help Sanders.

In contrast to Trump, Sanders immediately and forcefully rejected Russian interference.

"My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections," Sanders told the Post, "and as president, I will make sure that you do."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.