WILMINGTON, Del. — Today, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports to discuss foreign election interference in light of the reported poisoning of Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.

This latest incident is just another reminder that Putin does not share our values, does not support democracy, and is an active threat to our own democracy,” said Senator Coons. “Donald Trump's own Director of National Intelligence, his own Director of the FBI have testified to Congress this year in open session that they expect Russian interference in our fall elections. That's why so many of us in Congress, Democrats in particular, are pushing for more resources to secure our election from foreign interference, in particular by Putin's Russia.”

Senator Coons added, “what I hear from Americans is they're concerned about their health, about this pandemic, about protecting them from pre-existing conditions, something the Trump administration is still in front of the Supreme Court trying to reverse.”

Full audio and video available here. A transcript is provided below.

Q: Joining us now, Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who is on the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, first to Russia. Alexei Navalny is not of course the first Putin critic to get sick or die under hard-to-prove circumstances. There's a litany of them. What’s your reaction to this?

Sen. Coons: Well, Andrea, this is just another bracing reminder of the ways in which Vladimir Putin and the Russian government that he leads stops at nothing to silence their opponents and their critics. Remember, the Skripal incident in the United Kingdom in 2018 where Russian intelligence services carried out a poisoning and attempted murder of a defector from Russia. There are others who have been murdered on the steps of the Kremlin, who have suffered mysterious accidents or died in police custody. This latest incident is just another reminder that Putin does not share our values, does not support democracy, and is an active threat to our own democracy. I'll remind you, Andrea, Donald Trump's own Director of National Intelligence, his own Director of the FBI have testified to Congress this year in open session that they expect Russian interference in our fall elections. That's why so many of us in Congress, Democrats in particular, are pushing for more resources to secure our election from foreign interference, in particular by Putin's Russia. 

Q: And NBC has reported that the president has at least been trying to set up a summit with Putin before the election. If he were to do that, what would be your reaction?

Sen. Coons: My reaction would be, as it has been to every time that President Trump has ignored the advice of his own intelligence community, of our own national security and military leaders, and has taken Putin's word over our own security leaders, which is, this is another example of the ways that Trump doesn't listen to experts, doesn't put our security first. Remember when he went to the summit in Finland? And over the strenuous objection of our intelligence community said, eh, I don't think Putin had anything to do with interfering in our elections. The Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Republican senators just this week released another volume of evidence that there was close ties between senior ranks of the Trump campaign such as Steve Bannon, just indicted today, arrested today for fraudulent behavior, such as Paul Manafort, his former campaign manager jailed for criminal activity, that there was too close and too frequent solicitation of help from Russian intelligence. But frankly, Andrea, here in Delaware and across the country, what I hear from Americans is they're concerned about their health, about this pandemic, about protecting them from pre-existing conditions, something the Trump administration is still in front of the Supreme Court trying to reverse. And they worry less about QAnon and the latest crazy thing President Trump has said about some conspiracy theory or the latest thing that Democrats say about there is a threat of Russian interference. They want to know how we're going to build back our country better, get out of this pandemic, reopen schools safely, and get back to normal. 

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