- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2017

Election meddling may soon become “normalized” if the U.S. doesn’t take further action against Russia over the alleged Kremlin-ordered hacking campaign waged during last year’s White House race, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said Thursday.

“If Russia gets a pass on 2016, it could interfere in future U.S. elections not only at the presidential level but at the House and Senate level,” the New Hampshire Democrat said at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, The Hill reported.

While President Trump has reluctantly acknowledged Russia’s likely involvement in his own election, the White House has continued to “publicly reject the idea that Russia interfered,” Ms. Shaheen said Thursday, The Hill reported.

Paired with “partisan divisions,” the senator said Washington’s hesitation to make an example out of Russia may empower Moscow to meddle further.

“The danger is that partisan divisions will allow Putin to interfere in our election with no punishment and no consequences,” she said. “And an even more dangerous prospect is that Russian interference of American elections could become normalized.”

Russian military intelligence penetrated computer systems connected to Mr. Trump’s White House opponent, Democratic contender Hillary Clinton, and then orchestrated the release of hacked emails and other stolen documents in an effort to interfere in last year’s U.S. presidential race, the U.S. intelligence community has concluded. The Kremlin has asserted otherwise.

Mr. Trump’s predecessor, former President Obama, imposed new sanctions on Russia and expelled nearly three-dozen diplomats late last year as a consequence of the hacking campaign, nearly a month after Ms. Shaheen first urged colleagues on Capitol Hill to take action against Moscow.

“These Russian actions are unprecedented in our post-Cold War relationship and have rightfully drawn bipartisan condemnation and prompted bipartisan calls for Congressional hearings,” she wrote in a letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee leadership dated Dec. 1.

Committees in the House and Senate have since held formal hearings devoted to allegations involving Russia’s role in last year’s U.S. presidential election, the likes of which have also since been revealed to be the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation.

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