Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Senate Judiciary Committee
Enforcement is Equipped to Target Those Seeking to Do Harm”
June 12, 2018
you to everyone for being here today.
many months now, we have been aware that foreign actors attempted to interfere
in our democracy by spreading false or inflammatory rhetoric to the electorate,
and by attempting to hack our electoral systems themselves. Our hearing
today will again focus on what actions we can take to help prevent that from
happening again – in particular, what tools we can provide law enforcement to
investigate and prosecute those who seek to do us harm.
great threat posed by foreign meddling in our elections has led to many
responses from within our government. First and foremost, the Department
of Homeland Security has been on the front lines trying to bolster state and
local election infrastructure. In January 2017, DHS designated our election
systems as critical infrastructure. That designation supported two
cybersecurity-related purposes: (1) election officials, upon request, would be
a top priority for the receipt of DHS’s service; and (2) election
infrastructure would receive the benefit of various domestic and international
DHS has worked to share classified and non-classified cybersecurity risk
information with state and local officials. DHS has formed several
working groups and task forces to develop plans for election infrastructure
security, working not only with state and local election officials, but also
the private sector to help generate best practices and solutions. And DHS
has continued to work to strengthen partnerships with state and local election
elections are controlled by the states. That means these partnerships are
completely voluntary. That puts the onus on the states to seek help from,
and cooperate with, the federal government. If they don’t, DHS can’t
responses from the government include President Trump’s decisions to levy
sanctions against Russian organizations and individuals that participated in
election interference. In March 2018, the Treasury Department targeted
five entities and 19 individuals, including the Internet Research Agency and
individuals associated with it. In April, the Administration imposed additional
sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs and top government officials for
interference in the 2016 election and other aggressions. Among the
individuals sanctioned was Oleg Deripaska, an individual who had close ties to
former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Also in March of 2018,
President Trump expelled 60 Russian diplomats in the U.S.—the largest such
expulsion in U.S. history.
the criminal front, this past February the Special Counsel charged several
Russian entities with crimes associated with an effort to interfere in the U.S.
has devoted substantial attention to the issue as well. Some have
complained about alleged inaction, particularly within our own Committee.
To the contrary, in the Judiciary Committee alone, we have held no less than
five hearings addressing this particular issue. This will be our sixth
hearing regarding Russian and other foreign interference in our elections since
the last election.
· On March 15,
“The Modus Operandi and Toolbox of Russia and Other Autocracies for Undermining
Democracies Throughout the World.”
· On May 3, 2017, FBI
Oversight. Former FBI Director James Comey answered questions relating to
Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.
· On May 8, 2017, “Russian
Interference in the 2016 United States Election.” Former Deputy Attorney
General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
· On July 26,
the “Oversight of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and Attempts to Influence
U.S. Elections: Lessons Learned from Current and Prior Administrations.” That
hearing followed a DOJ Inspector General report which recommended several
initiatives to improve the Foreign Agents Registration Act. I
incorporated those recommendations in creating and introducing S. 2039, the Disclosing
Foreign Influence Act, which would help DOJ better investigate foreign agents
improperly seeking to influence our policies and elections.
· On October 31,
“Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online: Working with Tech to Find
the legislative front, there have been no fewer than 18 pieces of legislation
proposed to combat different angles of the foreign election meddling issue in
the Senate alone. However, only one has been referred to the Judiciary
Committee. I’ve cosponsored the Disclosing Foreign Influence Act,
as well as the Shell Company Abuse Act, with Senators Whitehouse,
Durbin, and Graham. This second bill, if enacted into law, would criminalize
concealing activities of a foreign national in connection with contributions or
donations to campaigns or electioneering communications.
addition to the bills offered into the Senate, 16 have been offered in the
House, and there have been many hearings in many other committees.
and DOJ have been working hard to formulate the best response to this
challenge, and to investigate and prosecute those targeting our
elections. Experts and academics have also weighed in with thoughts on
how best to protect our elections as we move towards November 2018. We
will hear from some of them today.
I mentioned earlier, our hearing is focused very squarely on this issue: are
there additional steps we can take within the jurisdiction of the Judiciary
Committee that will meaningfully assist law enforcement to deter, prevent,
investigate or punish foreign actors who seek to meddle in our elections?
important to note that he Federal Election Campaign Act – which is not even
within Judiciary’s jurisdiction – is a comprehensive framework designed to
address illegal campaign and election-related activities. FECA provides
many of the answers to enforcement.
Title 18, and as the Mueller indictment suggests, many of the existing statutes
already address this behavior: Wire Fraud, Bank Fraud, Aggravated Identity
Theft, FARA, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, to name a few.
problems sometimes call for new solutions. Sometimes they can be addressed by
existing laws. Ultimately, the answer may be that no new law needs to be
created; or that only a few small changes are necessary. These are
perfectly acceptable answers. But that does not mean we should not ask
the question. So, we are here to ask it.