Missouri U.S. Senator Roy Blunt made his third appearance of 2018 on Meet The Press Sunday.
The second term Republican was immediately pressed by moderator Chuck Todd to respond to a tweet earlier yesterday morning from President Trump that attacked the press for reporting fake news and being “enemies of the people”. Todd said the comments by Trump we’re over the top and asked Blunt when such rhetoric should stop.
Blunt said the President’s stance is not his point of view. He mentioned that the press generally asks him good questions, but also suggested there are media sources that are untruthful.
He noted that President Trump’s attacks on the press have been well received by those attending his rallies and said the President communicates in a different way. Blunt added that President Trump’s own daughter disagrees with him on the issue and said he himself would not approach the topic in the same way.
Todd said the president’s rhetoric was dangerous and makes violence against the press easier to rationalize for some people.
The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2018
Senator Blunt offered the observation that the President really believes the news is not accurate. Todd asked him if he also believes the press to be dishonest. Blunt responded by saying that news is longer being reported in an unbiased manner, which drew quick disapproval from Todd.
“That middle of the road news that people my age grew up with is no longer the news,” said Blunt. “I would respectfully disagree there, particularly on this show,” Todd responded.
The moderator then mentioned a tweet by longtime Republican speechwriter Peter Wehner that claimed President Trump makes racists appeals by attacking the intelligence of black athletes, journalists and members of Congress.
Trump’s made the same criticism of black athletes, black journalists & black Members of Congress. He attacks their intelligence. His racist appeals aren’t even disguised anymore. The closest figure in modern national politics to Trump? George Wallace. Trump now defines the GOP.
— Peter Wehner (@Peter_Wehner) August 4, 2018
Blunt said Trump has questioned the intelligence of others including fellow Republicans during the 2016 Presidential primaries, but took issue with Trump’s attacks on African Americans, particularly on St. Louis native and Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California.
“A lot of things, for instance, you could say about Maxine Waters,” Blunt said. “But to indicate she is not a bright person is not one of them. She is very smart and very calculating and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. So, I served with her in the House.”
Todd then switched topics to discuss election security, asking Blunt to respond to recent comments by that FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates that Russia is a major threat to interfere with upcoming U.S. elections.
The native of southwest Missouri’s Niangua noted that he was a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and chairs the Rules Committee that handles legislation for election security.
Blunt said it was helpful that FBI Director Wray had concluded that the election system is under less threat of foreign interference this year than in 2016. He said federal and local officials need to work together to make sure there’s confidence in elections results.
Blunt told Todd he felt good about cooperation at all levels of government heading off foreign threats as the mid-term election approaches.
As far as legislation to deal with states that don’t have a backup paper ballot system, Blunt said he wanted an audit trail to be established. Blunt voted with Senate Republicans to block $250 million from being aimed at election security for the 2018 midterm contest, even though members of the intelligence community have warned that foreign governments will try to interfere.
There’s also evidence that attempts have already been made. Missouri’s Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill recently disclosed that Russian agents had unsuccessfully tried to hack into her Senate computer network.
Blunt is among a group of several Senate Republicans who think there should be a determination of how states will use the money before the federal government allocates more funding for the problem. He expressed concern that Congress approved $380 million in grants to help improve election security in 2018 without enough scrutiny.
When asked about a bill to beef up sanctions against Russia over interference in U.S. elections and its activities in Syria and Ukraine, Blunt noted that he hadn’t looked over the legislation yet.
At the end of his Meet The Press interview, Blunt said he was eased by comments from General Paul Nakasone, director of the National Security Agency and the US Cyber Command, who said for the first time this week that the country could successfully respond to cyber-attacks.
“That is a big step, I think, in the right direction,” said Blunt. “And the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans, any of the other seven actors that principally are doing this kind of activity should listen very carefully to what General Nakasone said, as well as what other people said this week on this topic.”
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