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On Meet the Press, Blunt Talks Cybersecurity, Bipartisan January 6th Report, and Voting Legislation

June 06, 2021

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), the top Republican on the Senate Rules Committee and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press today to discuss cybersecurity and Russia-backed hacking, the bipartisan report on the January 6th attack to be released this week by the Senate Rules and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees, and voting legislation.

On Enhancing U.S. Cybersecurity and Holding Hackers Accountable:

“Well, as Chairman Warner pointed out, we did see in the 2018 elections where we really did push back. Remember 2016, as late as early 2017, we had cyber defense capabilities but we didn't have the authority, the president had never given the authority for cyber offense. And so when we did push back, we pushed back pretty hard in 2018, it stopped. I think, to some extent, Chuck, you really have to treat Russia like it's virtually a criminal enterprise. They harbor criminals, they don't appreciate the rule of law, or any kind of level of personal freedom. And I do think we have to push back. When there's no penalty, there's no sanctions, it’s hard to find who's doing it, even when you can find where they are, we haven't really effectively sanctioned the companies of the countries that are protecting this kind of activity. It has to stop. On one question you asked Chairman Warner, could we say that companies have to guarantee their system to be a U.S. vendor, or whatever the other guarantee might be. The truth is we haven't been able to guarantee our own system. You know on the SolarWinds, they got in the government system as well. We didn't know they were there, we don't know how long they were there, we're not absolutely sure they're not there still. And so, you know, saying that companies would have to meet a standard we can't meet would be one thing and let me make one other point. On the Colonial Pipeline, that was a very simple way in. They used as an old account that was no longer even a person, that account was not even part of the system anymore but it wasn't taken out of the system. There was a place where maybe a two-part authentication would have made a big difference. We worked hard on this, both in Intel and in the Republican Policy Committee, trying to alert companies, but also our own colleagues, of how broad the danger could be here and I'm glad this is getting the attention it’s now finally getting.”

On the Bipartisan, Joint Rules-HSGAC Report on the January 6th Attack:

“You know, my point, from not just last month, but from the very moment this commission idea came up — I never said, you know, I'd be for it if it was more bipartisan. It was very non-bipartisan in the first proposal. I never said that. What I said was, I think we know what we need to do here and a commission, in my view, an immediate commission, would slow us up in saying, ‘well we need to wait till we know all the facts we need to wait for the commission.’ We will come up with a bipartisan, two-committee report next week. The Rules Committee that I was the chairman of, now the ranking member, Senator Klobuchar and I on that committee, Senator Portman and Senator Peters on the other committee. We're going to have a pretty extensive report on what happened, over a 100-page report, with a significant number of recommendations, in my view, all of which could be put in place immediately. And my sense was it was important to act and do what we know we need to do then to get in a position where we start waiting for a commission to come forth with the report that we — I think you're going to be happy, I think you’re going to be really pleased with the report you see — and we'll see then where we need to go next after that report is out.”

On Voting Legislation: 

“Well, I'm concerned we're losing faith in the election system. I do think it's important to have a bipartisan belief that the election system does what it's supposed to do, that the results that are the results of Election Day are what absolutely happened. You know, I served for eight years as the chief election official in my state. I was pleased to see Senator Manchin have the same view that we need to move forward on election reforms in a bipartisan way. I look forward to being a part of that. We'll see what happens with the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and other issues I think we can deal with and deal with in a way that's less partisan than trying to create political advantage for either side.”

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