Friday on CNN’s “Wolf,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) said he was worried the sanctions President Donald Trump imposed on Russia could cause them to retaliate by helping the Republican party in the November midterm elections.
Partial transcript as follows:
BLITZER: Russia is expected to retaliate literally any moment against the United States by expanding their own blacklist of Americans. It’s not known if Americans can be ordered out of Russia, American diplomats, as a response to the expanded U.S. sanctions against Russia. Joining us, California Congressman Eric Swalwell. He’s a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Eric, thanks for joining us. What would you expect to see on Russia?
SWALWELL: Certainly an expulsion is probably likely of diplomats. I worry you’ll see escalating interference in our upcoming elections and also other infrastructure.
BLITZER: You mean the midterm elections?
BLITZER: What can they do, realistically?
SWALWELL: They can continue to help their friend, Donald Trump, their preferred candidate from the last election, by helping his party in Congress. 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 and help the Russians. So I fear that our guard is down against the Russians right now. That they’re throwing punches, we’re on the ropes, and if we don’t do anything, the interference in this election and in 2020 could be much worse.
BLITZER: Your fear is their involvement in social media, not in actual ballot tampering or anything like that?
SWALWELL: I don’t think we’ve reached a conclusion whether they tampered with votes because we haven’t looked at whether they tampered with votes. We learn more and more how deeply they penetrated state voter databases. I don’t know that we can exclusively say that, but we should protect the ballot box, we should protect against the hacking, We should protect against the trolling and what they’ve been doing.
BLITZER: There are still other investigations on the Senate side, for example, going on. So even though the Republican majority in the House Intelligence Committee have said no evidence of collusion, time to move on, it’s enough, and you guys are in the minority, so there’s not really much you can do about that. But there are other investigations and most significantly Robert Mueller and his team, they’re still pursuing their independent investigation.
SWALWELL: We should do all we can to protect Bob Mueller’s investigation. We could actually pass legislation. There is bipartisan legislation to cement his role, to prevent him from being fired unless there is cause, for a third party that looks at it. I also think it is time to pass my legislation with Elijah Cummings for an independent commission. That’s the only way to tell the America people what happened. That’s not something Bob Mueller will do. We still need to tell the American people what happened, who is responsible.
BLITZER: That’s not going to happen unless you get a whole lot of Republicans on board —
SWALWELL: We either have to change 22 minds, we have two Republicans on board, or we need to change 24 seats this November at the ballot box.
BLITZER: How serious is the threat of—Homeland Security is now warning about that the Russians potentially could get involved in hacking the power grid, the electric power grid here in the United States. How serious is that?
SWALWELL: Very serious, Wolf. This is our livelihood that’s at stake, our heating, our cooling, our electricity, our economy is at stake. Again, the Russians, they’re taking advantage of a very, very weak America that has not been willing to see its commander-in-chief stand up to the Russians. We need a strategy against Russia. Not one-off sanctions. We need sanctions, direct attribution, confronting Putin, hardening our electricity and election systems, not just one-offs as this president has done with Russia and other national security threats.
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN