Our country is under attack by a hostile power. The intelligence community agrees, the vast majority of my colleagues — on both sides of the aisle — agree. Russia has interfered in our elections and is attempting to do so again.
At no moment have I felt more concerned about the security of our democracy than when I watched President Trump’s response to this attack in Helsinki on Monday. On foreign soil, standing next to the leader of the country that more than any other threatens our own, the President refused to stand up for America and instead chose to side with Russia and its dictator, Vladimir Putin.
Just days after the Justice department issued indictments for 12 Russian agents, agents who sought to undermine the genius of America — that 242 years in we are still able to govern ourselves and freely choose our leaders — the President did what no sitting president has done before him. He chose a foreign power over the United States.
If I was sickened by the fact that, in Sen. John McCain’s words, no “president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,” I was heartened by the response from my colleagues, from both sides of the aisle, who denounced the President’s behavior.
Because we must ask ourselves, if the President did not cross a line here that demands a vigorous response, then what will that line be? How much farther down the road and at what additional expense to this country? And is that line so far that when crossed it will be too late for us to respond?
Thankfully there is also some bipartisan support to take action now. Support that we must build upon by listening to and working with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle. For example, both Republicans and Democrats have demanded increased sanctions on Russia. In other words, if the President won’t stand up for us against Russia, Congress can.
There are also efforts to get the translator present in the President’s one-on-one meeting with Putin this week to testify to Congress — so far those efforts are only among Democrats but I will work to make them bipartisan.
After this week, there is an even greater urgency behind getting resources to elections administrators, secretaries of state and federal law enforcement to protect the sanctity of the ballot box ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
And there is growing bipartisan commitment that the independence and integrity of the independent counsel, Bob Mueller, must be protected — to ensure that his investigation can pursue the facts as far as they lead, as high up as they go.
I strongly support each of these efforts, and will continue to pursue accountability and justice — at the same time that we protect our democracy against hostile powers — by putting this country first. Before we are Republicans or Democrats, we are Americans. If ever there were a time to demonstrate that, it is now.
After more than a year and a half of bizarre behavior — the blizzard of lies, the daily destruction of decency and the undermining of norms and institutions that have made us the greatest country on the earth — we must guard against becoming inured to this conduct and its consequences lest we fail to protect our democracy and this republic at the moment she needs us the most.
I urge action — let’s not allow any small difference or personal consideration, whether its party affiliation or the next election, to stand in the way.
I am grateful to everyone who has reached out to me to add their commitment to meet these threats. I commit to you that I will do everything in my power to meet them with the urgency that they demand.