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Stephanie Murphy: Russian interference in U.S. elections ‘direct assault on our democracy’

Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy renewed her call Friday for independent, non-partisan investigations into Russia’s involvement in last fall’s elections, calling the Russian activities “a direct assault on our democracy.”

Speaking at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce in her hometown, the freshman congresswoman pressed her background, interests and house committee assignments in national security to express her concerns about Russia’s role, and her questions about President Donald Trump‘s firing Tuesday of FBI Director James Comey, who was investigating it.

“I’m alarmed by the consensus view among our intelligence community that the Russian government interfered in our democracy. And here’s what we know: that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered an influence campaign, in an attempt to sway our presidential election,” she said. “But what we don’t know is who, necessary, was involved, and whether Americans were actively participating or had knowledge of the Russian activities.

“So make no mistake about it, Russian attempts to sway our election constitutes a direct assault on our democracy, and they can’t go on,” she said. “And we have to take action to prevent this type of interference again.”

Murphy delivered a broad-based speech in which she also talked about the need to fix, not replace the current health care system, making sure to provide access and also to find ways to bring down costs to small businesses and individuals. The comments harkened to concerns she heard raised earlier this week in a Sanford Chamber of Commerce meeting, but also reflect some of her policy statements that have called for finding ways to reduce costs.

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She also raised her concerns about North Korea, and noted that the CIA just announced creation of a broad intelligence review committee that mirrors what she pushed for in a bill she introduced last month. Yet she criticized the Trump White House’s “lack of tiered strategy” for North Korea and other foreign affairs matters.

Those comments and many others were drawn from a theme Murphy raised about she said she’s hearing from constituents, about growing uncertainty.

“The overarching theme delivered to me by nearly every constituent in my district is uncertainty. They recognize that progress in Central Florida and the nation has seen over the last few years… But I think with Congress in disarray, the war in the Middle East still ongoing, growing threats in North Korea, health care facing dramatic changes, that people are feeling uncertainty and concern,” she said.

“Uncertainty isn’t good for families and seniors, and it definitely isn’t good for businesses and the stock market, and it’s definitely not good for our allies like Israel, who depend on a strong and stable America,” she said.

But she offered optimism based on the American people, saying “our brave service members, diplomats and intelligence officers will always do what it takes to keep us safe…. I also think the hard-working spirit of the American people will overcome any obstacle. We are a nation that is already great, and it’s because of the internal fortitude and American values.”

But she also pressed on about the “crisis in our government” she centered on Trump, the allegations about Russia, and Comey’s firing.

“The timing of this termination is unusually suspect, and I think we need to know. We need to follow the facts where they lead, and we can hold those who broke the law, accountable, and protect the sanctity of our elections and get back to governing,” she said.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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