Calling for support of legislation to quell foreign meddling in elections, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said on Tuesday that Russian meddling will continue unless action is taken to deter it.
Rubio and U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act earlier this year. The measure would impose immediate sanctions on Russia if the director of foreign intelligence concludes that Russian actors meddled in 2016 elections.
“Men like Vladimir Putin operate as cost-benefit analyzers,” Rubio said on the Senate floor on Tuesday. “They weigh the costs against the benefits, and then they decide what action to take. And there’s no doubt that in 2016 he saw that the costs of what he did were very low. He thought he could hide it. He thought by the time it was figured out, it would be too late and he thought that America would be in such disarray, that it couldn’t get its act together and actually impose any additional sanctions. But he saw the benefits as extraordinary, and so he took action, and he’ll do it again if he doesn’t think the costs are high enough.”
Rubio and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) recently highlighted bipartisan efforts to team up with lawmakers from Canada and Europe to raise awareness about Russian meddling in elections. Rubio also urged Florida state officials to leverage resources provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to secure election infrastructure.
“Vladimir Putin is not a Republican and he’s not a Democrat,” Rubio said. “He’s not a conservative and he’s not a liberal. Do not ascribe to him any of the attributes of American politics. He interfered in 2016 in order to create chaos and controversy, not to elect any particular party or individual. That was by far his strongest motivator. And he’ll do it again. And I believe if left unchecked he’ll target members of the Senate who he thinks are his opponents. He’ll target members of Congress. Eventually, he’ll even target our debates outside of elections.”