Opinion: The American people need to know the facts about Russia’s interference in US election


Predictably, the accounts were traced back to Internet Research Agency, the most infamous of the Russian government-sponsored troll farms which prominently played in the 2016 election.

While it is still very possible that Russia will attempt to infiltrate and sabotage American voting infrastructure and outcomes, the influence Moscow has already had on the 2020 political debate through its dizzying array of political interference operations is hard to overhype.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee willfully cooperated with Russian-aligned political fixer Andrii Telizhenko, and issued a partisan report echoing most of the Kremlin-fed anti-Biden stories that he had been shopping. Last month, the State Department quietly revoked Telizhenko’s visa, and the Treasury Department announced that Telizhenko’s frequent collaborator, Andriy Derkach, was a Russian secret agent.
Russia has had equal success manipulating the broader public debate outside Washington. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University who analyzed more than 200 million tweets about the Covid-19 pandemic — many of which spread wild conspiracy theories — found that nearly half of the Twitter accounts behind these posts were likely bots.
Russia, of course, is the likely source of any massive Twitter-bot operation. This is nothing new. During the 2018 government shutdown, the hashtag #SchumerShutdown was trending on Twitter, thanks to 600 Russian bots pushing the blame for the government closure on the Democratic Party. The deep political polarization in our own society has made the Kremlin’s job easier, and they often simply magnify divisive statements from the president.
Russia’s misinformation campaign is massive — much bigger than 2016 and there is no doubt that it intends to help reelect Donald Trump and defeat Joe Biden. This is the official finding of the FBI and the wider US intelligence community.
But the White House, often with the help of political appointees at the intelligence agencies, is trying its best to cover up Russia’s octopus-like disruption operation. Over and over, public statements from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence try to conflate Russian election interference with Iranian and Chinese efforts and suggest that while Russia may prefer Trump, Iran and China back Biden.
We saw this false equivalency unfold just last week, when Director of National Intelligence Ratcliffe hastily called a press conference, taking no questions, to disclose an Iranian effort to contact and intimidate registered Democrats. Despite the fact that the emails told voters to support Trump, DNI Ratcliffe tried to make the case that the intent was to hurt Trump.

It was just another effort by the administration to try to clumsily lump Russian and Iranian and Chinese efforts all together.

The real key to winning this election

But there is no comparison. Russia is the only country with the capability and intent to meaningfully disrupt our election — no matter what Ratcliffe and Trump’s other loyalists want the American public to believe.

Even more menacing is the Trump administration’s attempts to simply bury information that would give voters warnings about Russian interference. This summer, I asked Secretary of State Michael Pompeo if voters should trust Andrii Derkach, and he refused to answer the question, though he certainly knew the answer.
It was only weeks later that the Treasury Department sanctioned Derkach for being a Russian agent. In September, the highest level counterterrorism official at the Department of Homeland Security disclosed in a whistleblower complaint that the White House had pressured him to stop providing intelligence reports on Russian interference operation.

With Biden’s lead in the national polls expanding, and Trump’s behavior becoming even more erratic, the President is clearly in need of a Hail Mary to make up a widening gap in the polls. There are few places that he can turn other than Russia, and we know Russia is poised to interfere on Trump’s behalf again.

The strange tale of a purported Biden family laptop’s data ending up in the hands of Rudy Giuliani is a likely sign that Russia’s campaign to plant fictional, anti-Biden propaganda into the US political debate may just be ramping up. Though DNI Ratcliffe claims there isn’t intelligence to support Russian interference, a recent letter from 50 former intelligence officials disagreed, arguing that the operation had all the hallmarks of a Russian operation.

But the good news is this — the more Americans know about Russia’s intent and capability, the less likely Russia’s desperate, last-minute attempts at interference and disruption will be. Those who care about the future of democracy will press the Administration to reveal what they know, before it’s too late.



Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *