Start Here: Election security after Muellers warning and mass arrest of Marines

It’s Friday, July 26, 2019. Let’s start here.

1. Meddling past, present and future

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell twice blocked election security bills this week, despite former special counsel Robert Mueller’s warning about Russia continuing to meddle in U.S. elections.

In his marathon testimony on Wednesday, Mueller said, “They’re doing it as we sit here and they expect to do it during the next campaign.”

Even with McConnell’s opposition toward taking up election security, there is a bipartisan effort among lawmakers to address election interference, according to ABC News’ Trish Turner on “Start Here” today: “A lot of senators are calling for a cyber doctrine. They want to see a plan out of the administration that outlines how we’re going to ward against future cyber-attacks in this country.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee released its own report on Russian meddling on Thursday that said they found no evidence any votes were changed in the 2016 election, but accused Russia of trying to find vulnerabilities in the U.S. voting infrastructure.

2. Marine arrests

Sixteen U.S. Marines have been arrested on charges ranging from human smuggling to drug-related offenses, according to the Marine Corps.

The mass arrests happened on Thursday morning during an 800-person battalion formation at Camp Pendleton, the largest military base in California.

“Representatives from their division and … the Naval Criminal Investigative Service show up and start grabbing some of them and arresting them,” ABC News’ Elizabeth McLaughlin says. “This was not a normal day in formation.”

All were low-ranking enlisted males in the 1st Battalion 5th Marines, ranging between private first class and corporal.

Military officials said the arrests were triggered by a human smuggling investigation from earlier this month, which involved two Marines accused of trying to transport undocumented immigrants for “financial gain.”

PHOTO: The entrance to Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 22, 2015, in Oceanside, Calif.Gregory Bull/AP, FILE
The entrance to Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 22, 2015, in Oceanside, Calif.

3. Capital punishment reconsidered

After a 16-year pause, the Department of Justice announced on Thursday it will resume executions in federal cases, with Attorney General William Barr ordering the executions of five death-row inmates who were convicted on federal charges for murdering children.

Barr said the decision was about upholding existing law, but Austin Sarat, a professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College and a death penalty expert, believes it was a political gesture as the country undergoes a “national reconsideration of capital punishment.”

“Public support for the death penalty is down from its historic highs, the number of executions in the United States has dropped dramatically, and the number of death sentences has also dropped dramatically,” he says. “Citizens, legislators, prosecutors [and] jurors are rethinking this question of when the death penalty is appropriate and whether it’s appropriate at all.”

4. Church in crisis

A bishop in Buffalo, New York, has defied calls to resign after he was accused of concealing sexual misconduct allegations and allowed priests accused of child sex abuse to stay on the job. He says that he has worked hard to address the decades-old sex abuse scandal that he inherited. ABC News’ David Wright covers the story for “Nightline.”

PHOTO: Parishioners worship during a mass to celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St Paul Cathedral, the mother church of the Pittsburgh Diocese, Aug. 15, 2018, in Pittsburgh.Jeff Swensen/Getty Images, FILE
Parishioners worship during a mass to celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St Paul Cathedral, the mother church of the Pittsburgh Diocese, Aug. 15, 2018, in Pittsburgh.

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Doff your cap:

This video may be difficult for some viewers to watch, but it has a happy ending.

An Ohio officer is being lauded for successfully performing CPR on an infant and saving the child’s life after he stopped breathing.

Body camera footage captured Officer Evan Estep, of the Sandusky Police Department, pressing on the 6-month-old baby boy’s chest after his mother said the child “went limp.”

The footage captured Officer Evan Estep of the Sandusky Police Department pressing on the babys chest after his mother said the child went limp.Play
Body camera footage shows Ohio officer saving infant

After nearly 20 chest compressions, the child let out a cry.

He was taken to the Firelands Regional Medical Center, where his mother said he is doing “much better.”