A Democratic congressman on Friday expressed concern that new financial sanctions President Donald Trump imposed this week on Russia will bring retaliation — in the form of help for Trump’s party in the November midterm elections.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) made the comment during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. He and other Democratic members of Congress have complained vociferously that the Trump administration had been slow to implement sanctions, which legislators passed overwhelmingly in July 2017, in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Now that the Department of the Treasury has finally acted, Swalwell suggested Russia would try to help the GOP.
“Well, they can continue to help their friend Donald Trump, you know, their preferred candidate from the last election, by helping his party in Congress,” he said. “You know, there are about 100 competitive seats this November, and that could possibly put a check on Donald Trump. That would limit his ability to try to help the Russians.”
Swalwell, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, did not explain — and Blitzer did not ask — why he thought a logical response to sanctions would be to try to help the president who imposed them, or why Russian President Vladimir Putin would prefer a GOP Congress when the vote to impose sanctions was nearly unanimous on both sides of the aisle.
But Swalwell had plenty of opinions about the danger to democracy posed by the Russian government.
“I fear that our guard is down against the Russians right now, that they’re throwing punches,” he said. “We’re on the ropes, and if we don’t do anything, the interference in this election and in 2020 could be much worse.”
Swalwell also refused to concede the Russians did not change the vote totals in the 2016 election — despite the fact that no one has offered a shred of credible evidence that such a thing occurred.
“We learn more and more every day how deeply they penetrated state voter registration databases.”
“We learn more and more every day how deeply they penetrated state voter registration databases, so I don’t think we can conclusively say that,” he said. “But we should protect the ballot box. We should protect against the hacking. We should protect against the trolling and the bot amplification that they’ve been doing.”