McConnell Says Silicon Valley Should Help the U.S. Retaliate Against Russia

Updated on
  • Senator says U.S. should ‘seriously retaliate’ against Moscow
  • Says it would be helpful if top tech executives would testify

Silicon Valley’s tech giants should help Uncle Sam retaliate against Russia for meddling in American politics, according to the top Republican in the U.S. Senate.

McConnell speaking on Capitol Hill.

Photographer: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call comes after lawmakers in Washington spent days grilling top lawyers from Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc., and Alphabet Inc.’s Google over how their platforms were used by Russian actors during the 2016 U.S. election campaign. Last week, the technology companies also disclosed new details about meddling by the Russia-based Internet Research Agency.

“What we ought to do with regard to the Russians is retaliate, seriously retaliate,” the Kentucky Republican said in an interview with Hugh Hewitt that aired Saturday on MSNBC. “These tech firms could be helpful in having us, giving us a way to do that,” he said according to transcript provided by the network.

Andy Stone, a spokesman for Facebook, declined to comment. Representatives for Twitter and Alphabet didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

Pressure is mounting on Capitol Hill for legislation directed at the companies as fresh details emerge regarding the scope of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections and how social media was used in that effort.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in a report released in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally ordered a campaign to undermine “public faith in the U.S. democratic process” in the lead-up to the November 2016 vote.

McConnell said he wouldn’t necessarily support a 9/11-style commission to look at the national security implications of the broader issue of encryption.

“I don’t know whether we need some special entity to do it or not. We have committees here. We have people interested in doing this,” McConnell said. He added that “it certainly would help” if the chief executive officers of the major internet companies were willing to testify.

“This is a tough area, trying to figure out how to balance national security versus the First Amendment,” McConnell said. “In any event, the First Amendment shouldn’t apply to foreigners.”

— With assistance by Katherine Chiglinsky

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