White House press secretary Sarah Sanders quelled reporters’ queries Wednesday challenging the Trump administration’s commitment to preventing meddling in U.S. elections, particularly Russian intelligence officials’ past and potential future meddling.
“Does the president see the interference in the 2016 election and possibly in the midterms as an attack on democracy — American democracy?” a reporter pressed during Wednesday’s White House press conference, citing a statement from the secretary of Homeland Security. “Does he see it as an issue of American democracy or just his opponents being attacked?”
Sanders re-emphasized President Donald Trump’s continued commitment to election integrity while also pointing to the fact that Russian meddling in the 2016 election occurred under former President Barack Obama’s leadership.
“The president thinks that we have to focus on securing our election integrity and our election systems, which is why he has spent so much time with his administration making sure that this doesn’t happen again,” said Sanders. “Let’s not forget that this didn’t happen under President Trump’s watch. This happened under the Obama administration.”
“We’re making bold reforms to try to fix this and make sure it never happens again because we take it seriously and because we recognize that our election system [is] incredibly important and is certainly a cornerstone of our democracy,” she added.
On Tuesday, the White House put out an extensive outline of actions the Trump administration has and is taking to ensure the integrity of U.S. elections.
Because she had not seen a final version of the bill, Sanders declined to comment about legislation from Sens. Marco Rubio and Chris Van Hollen that the reporter commented would impose sanctions on Russia in the event of meddling in the 2018 midterm or future elections.
Later, a reporter asked if the president’s concern about election integrity extended to voter suppression.
“We want to do everything within our power to protect the integrity of our elections, and we’re going to look at that on a number of fronts,” Sanders replied. “The reason I address these specific issues is because of Russia’s involvement in our elections in the past.”