By Christian Smith
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) is calling on Donald Trump and Congress to pass legislation after the President's controversial summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week.
"We really need a law that establishes a basic level of election security protections so that the American people can have complete faith that our election systems are not being interfered with," Castro told Cheddar on Tuesday.
His comments came a day after the summit in Helsinki, Finland, where President Trump broke with the American intelligence community. During a press conference, he said he believed Putin's claims that Russia did not intercede in the 2016 U.S. election. The Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, has since released a statement reiterating the intelligence community's view that Russia did, in fact, interfere in the election.
In a rare moment of bipartisanship, the President's comments drew the ire of both Democrats and Republicans. With the near-universal outcryーand serious pressure from Washington aidesーTrump issued an unusual retraction on Tuesday, claiming he misspoke at Monday's presser.
“While Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying — and I’ve said this many times — I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said. “Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”
Still, Trump's original words, Rep. Castro said before the retraction, present a real danger for future elections in America.
"Donald Trump has given Vladimir Putin a green light to interfere with the 2018 midterm elections and the 2020 presidential elections," Castro said.
U.S. federal law has no precedent for election security, which Castro says should be a priority for both the president and Congress ーotherwise election tampering will continue.
"If Russia thinks that there's no cost to interfere with our elections, then they're probably going to do it again," Castro said.
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