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Schumer: If Russia can interfere in 2020 elections, "it endangers the future of this democracy"

Schumer outlines election security plan
Schumer outlines plan to improve election security 25:18

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer condemned Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not acting to secure election infrastructure. 

"It is Congress' solemn obligations to protect our democracy," Schumer said at a news conference Tuesday, adding, "Any leader who doesn't do that is abdicating their responsibility to our grand democracy."

He called the news conference to talk about action Democrtats planned to take after President Trump said last week that he would accept election dirt on opponents from foreign actors. Schumer warned that such interference would damage our democracy.

"If Russia or any other country is able to interfere in the 2020 elections, it's going to shake confidence in our democracy to the core. It endangers the future of this democracy, plain and simple," Schumer said.

The New York senator said that Democrats would hold standalone votes that are already planned on election security and continue to press McConnell to take action. He also called on McConnell to allow votes on amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) -- which contains the annual Pentagon expenditures -- pertaining to election security. The Senate will begin debate on the NDAA this week.

Democrats would push for more election security money as part of the process of negotiating over spending caps, he said, promising to bring this issue up during a meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday.

"We will not let this issue stay buried in Leader McConnell's legislative graveyard," Schumer declared. He said that he believed McConnell could be "shamed," citing comedian Jon Stewart's public campaign against McConnell for slow-walking a bill that would permanently fund a compensation fund for 9/11 first responders.

He has also condemned Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn for blocking an effort to pass a bill mandating that candidates contact the FBI if offered any election assistance from foreign actors.

On the topic of Iran, Schumer called the administration's strategy "erratic and opaque." The administration announced that it is sending an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East Monday to counteract the threat from Iran.

Schumer said that he hoped President Trump would discuss health care, election security and infrastructure at his re-election campaign launch rally Tuesday evening, but that he feared the president would continue discussing a humanitarian crisis at the border "that he created." He called Mr. Trump's tweet that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would begin deporting millions of illegal immigrants "inhumane."

In a speech on the Senate floor Thursday, Schumer asked if his Republican colleagues were going to "sit and cower" in response to Mr. Trump's latest comments on election security. 

"It is truly outrageous that this bill, which should bring all of us together, is being blocked by Republicans," Schumer tweeted last week.

Mr. Trump made the comments on accepting foreign help in an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that aired in part last Wednesday night on "ABC News World Tonight." Stephanopoulos asked Mr. Trump whether he would take information offered from a foreign actor in the next election, or alert the FBI.

"I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. There's nothing wrong with listening," Mr. Trump said.

When Stephanopoulos pointed out that the FBI director has said that a candidate should call if they are offered intelligence on an opponent from a foreign actor, Mr. Trump shot back: "The FBI director is wrong."

However, on Thursday, Mr. Trump made light of the issue by suggesting it would be absurd if he alerted the FBI to every conversation he has with foreign leaders. 

The chair of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) tweeted a statement last week to be "100% clear" that "it is illegal to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election."

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