Senate Report Details Russian Interference In 2016 Election, Warns About 2020
A new Senate Intelligence Committee report adds to the evidence regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election.
A new report from the Senate Intelligence Committee details the efforts that Russia took to interfere in the 2016 election and recommends steps to be taken to prevent such interference in the future:
A bipartisan panel of U.S. senators Tuesday called for sweeping action by Congress, the White House and Silicon Valley to ensure social media sites aren’t used to interfere in the coming presidential election, delivering a sobering assessment about the weaknesses that Russian operatives exploited in the 2016 campaign.
The Senate Intelligence Committee, a Republican-led panel that has been investigating foreign electoral interference for more than 2½ years, said in blunt language that Russians worked to damage Democrat Hillary Clinton while bolstering Republican Donald Trump — and made clear that fresh rounds of interference are likely ahead of the 2020 vote.
“Russia is waging an information warfare campaign against the U.S. that didn’t start and didn’t end with the 2016 election,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the committee’s chairman. “Their goal is broader: to sow societal discord and erode public confidence in the machinery of government. By flooding social media with false reports, conspiracy theories, and trolls, and by exploiting existing divisions, Russia is trying to breed distrust of our democratic institutions and our fellow Americans.”
Though the 85-page report itself had extensive redactions, in the visible sections, lawmakers urged their peers in Congress to act, including through the potential adoption of new regulations that would the disclosure of ad buyers more transparent. The report also called on the White House and the executive branch to adopt a more forceful, public role, warning Americans about the ways in which dangerous misinformation can spread while creating new teams within the U.S. government to monitor for threats and share intelligence with industry.
The recommendations call for Silicon Valley to more extensively share intelligence among companies, in recognition of the shortage of such sharing in 2016 and also the ways that disinformation from Russia and other countries spreads across numerous platforms — with posts linking back and forth in a tangle of connections.
“The Committee found that Russia’s targeting of the 2016 U.S. presidential election was part of a broader, sophisticated and ongoing information warfare campaign,” the report says. The Russian effort was “a vastly more complex and strategic assault on the United States than was initially understood… an increasingly brazen interference by the Kremlin on the citizens and democratic institutions of the United States.”
The committee report recounts extensive Russian manipulation of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Google and other major platforms with the goal of dividing Americans, suppressing African American turnout and helping elect Trump president. Tuesday’s report, the second volume of the committee’s final report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, offered the most detailed set of recommendations so far for stiffening the nation’s defenses against foreign interference online — now a routine tactic for many nations.
The revelations about the 2016 election aren’t exactly news, of course, and they are largely consistent with the conclusions drawn by the report prepared by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as well as the conclusions reached by all of the nation’s intelligence agencies. Indeed, the only parties that seem to deny that such interference took place are the Trump Administration and its lackeys on Fox News Channel and elsewhere in conservative media who lately seem to have latched on to the bizarre theory that it was Ukraine that interfered in the election, that it did so in an effort to undermine the Trump campaign, and that it did so at the urging and with the cooperation of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. There is, of course, no evidence to support this claim, and a veritable boatload of data and witnesses to directly contradict it and support the much more plausible idea that the interference originated from Russia and was engineered by the Russian Government.
In addition to reporting about the Russian interference in the 2016 election, the committee’s two-volume report also notes that there is already evidence that foreign nations are seeking to interfere in the 2020 election. This conclusion has also been verified by reports in the media from other sources, which have indicated that such efforts aren’t just limited to Russia this time around, with some reports indicating that similar efforts are being undertaken by Iran, China, and North Korea. Obviously, these nations looked at what Russia did in 2016, factored into that the fact that the President and Republicans seem utterly disinterested in addressing the issue, and decided to take advantage of the situation. After all, it worked out great for Putin didn’t it?
Here are the two volumes of the report: