Blackburn: Russia issue is 'done'

Hank Hayes • Jul 27, 2019 at 6:00 PM

KINGSPORT — With special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony in the rearview mirror, U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn said Saturday the issue of Russian tampering in the 2016 election is over.

“I think everybody realizes this issue is done,” Blackburn, R-Tennessee, said after a Kingsport Chamber breakfast held at the MeadowView Marriott. “What they want to know is how in the world we got to this spot, that they would have taken a campaign document (the Steele Dossier) paid for by a campaign ... and that becomes embedded in the FBI and used to get a FISA warrant. People want to know what happened there because no private citizen (then presidential candidate Donald Trump) should ever be subjected to spying and handled in this way.”

When asked if she agrees with U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes’ assertion that the Russia investigation was a “hoax” perpetrated by Democrats, Blackburn responded: “What we know is that it came from that dossier and that the (then presidential candidate Hillary) Clinton campaign paid for that, and there seems to be no corroboration of the items that were listed in the dossier.”

When asked about settling the U.S.-China trade dispute that is affecting Eastman’s bottom line, Blackburn noted there are two issues that have become obstacles: intellectual property and Huawei, a huge, state-owned telecommunications company viewed as part of China’s spy network.

“How do the Chinese make money? They steal our intellectual property,” she said. “If China wants to be a market economy and be a part of the WTO (World Trade Organization), they’re going to respect our intellectual property. ... We do not want to give them a roadmap into our secure information system. ... China will realize they’ve got to be good actors, not bad actors, if they want to be a market economy. We are very hopeful we are going to be able to work a China agreement out.”

In contrast, Blackburn stressed that the proposed U.S.- Mexico-Canada agreement has “enormous bipartisan support” in the House of Representatives.

“We have a speaker of the House who has not scheduled a vote for whatever the reason is we can all guess,” Blackburn pointed out.

That agreement, Blackburn said, has the support of the Teamsters and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and once it is passed, “it helps us with China negotiations.”

At the end of the breakfast, Blackburn received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award for her pro-business voting record when she was a member of the U.S. House.