WASHINGTON – A stunning new report from congressional Democrats is warning of a deepening of the Russian interference in Europe and comes to the conclusion that even if some Western democracies have responded with aggressive measures, the President, Donald Trump has no strategic plan for the strengthening of their efforts or the protection of the U.S. again to become the victim of the Kremlin’s systematic intervention.
The report is the first of the Congress to have a full detail of the Russian efforts to undermine democracy since the 2016 presidential election, and he wastes no time in calling Trump personally for what he describes as a failure to respond to Russia’s mounting destabilization activities in the USA and worldwide. The report was obtained by The Associated Press in advance of its official Wednesday release.
“Never before has an AMERICAN president so clearly ignored such a grave and growing threat to AMERICAN national security,” the report warns.
The 200-plus-page report released by Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and is delivered without the sign-off of the Republicans on the panel. But even without GOP backing, the report of the stories of the Russian activities in 19 European countries foreshadows the yet-to-be-published Senate intelligence committee’s bipartisan investigation of Russia’s role during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Cardin commissioned the report, Americans can see that the “true scope and scale” of the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to undermine democracy in the world, he said in a statement.
“While President Trump is almost idle, Mr Putin continues to refine its asymmetric arsenal, and look for opportunities in the future to interfere with board of directors and moreover the support for the democratic and international institutions that the United States and Europe have built over the last 70 years,” Cardin said.
Pierre Cardin ‘ s research lays the blame directly on Putin for a “relentless assault to undermine democracy and the rule of law in Europe and the United States.” Concerned that Trump has failed to identify Russian aggression as a national meeting place, the report urges a “stronger congressional voice” in the pro-democracy efforts and funding. The report calls for the commission hearings and other bipartisan efforts to aid the European nations in countering Russian aggression.
The Republican chairman of the committee, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, not at Cardin’s report. But some of the policy changes proposed by the report have garnered GOP interest, including the aggressive use of financial penalties aimed at Russia and put pressure on social media companies to be more transparent about the Russian political messages.
The report also pushes for the administration to fully fund and make use of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, which it says is hobbled by “a lack of urgency and self-imposed limitations” under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The center, which is in 2016 to blunt terrorist propaganda, had the task extended to the fight against the Russian propaganda under bipartisan legislation last year, written by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sen. Chris Murphy, A Connecticut Democrat.
Pierre Cardin ‘ s report paints a bleak portrait of the European nations, besieged by a recent wave of Russian intervention. The report also cites years of cyber-attacks, disinformation, clandestine social media activity, the funding of fringe political groups, corruption and in the extreme, assassination attempts and military operations that have destabilized nascent democratic governments in Ukraine and Georgia. The report relies heavily on open source information, staff interviews with European diplomats and officials.
Labeling Russia the activities of an “asymmetric attack on democracy,” the report shows how even the elections in countries such as Britain, France and Germany were said to have been wracked by Moscow-sponsored cyber-hacking, internet trolls and the financing of extremist political groups. The report shall also include the credits from those countries, and the smaller European countries, such as Finland and Estonia, for responding quickly and often with effect.
Facebook officials told Cardin the researchers that the Kremlin-backed trolls who stirred up political tensions on the Us pages also “pursued a similar strategy in the run-up to the 2017 French political elections, and probably before Germany’s national election” last year.
Also the Finnish officials told Cardin the researchers that Finland has stepped up anti-disinformation efforts after the Russian-leaning Twitter accounts began tweeting misinformation and fringe viewpoints” for that country’s 2015 parliamentary election — foreshadowing the rise of the Russian-from fake Twitter accounts that spread during the U.S. presidential election.
And just as the Senate Intelligence Committee, the officials of the surveyed efforts of Facebook and Twitter, in order to accurately determine the extent of the Russian political messages 2016 during the AMERICAN elections, Cardin’s team also noticed alarming differences between the size of the Russian troll activity found by independent researchers and many of the lower figures claimed by social media companies in European countries. The report calls for social media companies to do a better job of auditing their platforms in order to determine the full extent of the Russian disinformation flowing over them.
Pierre Cardin ‘ s report urges Trump to an inter-agency “fusion cell” in the Russian intervention, modeled on the National Counterterrorism Center, which was founded after the 9/11 attacks launched on U.S. cities by al-Qaeda. The report also recommends that he convene an annual global summit, modeled after similar forums in the fight against the Islamic State, or homegrown violent extremists. Rapid response teams should be formed to defend ally countries after the cyber-attacks, with an international treaty on the use of digital resources in peacetime.
Also calls on the government to increase the amount of aid it provides to promote democracy in Europe and in the public to show of all organised crime and corruption links to Putin. She adds that social media companies should be obliged to publicize the sources of funding of political advertising along the same lines as broadcasting and printed media.
So far, the president has shown little interest in the approach of Russia’s activities. During November a trip to Asia, where he met with Putin, Trump said: “he said that he did not interfere” and added: “I really believe that when he tells me that he loves.”
Other officials are more skeptical about the Russian behaviour. Minister of defence James Mattis has said that the US is willing to deter Russian aggression in Europe and the united states agreed late last year to allow the sale of lethal anti-tank weapons in the Ukraine.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the CIA is working hard to prevent Russia or the U.S., and opponent affect the future elections. “I remain concerned not only about the Russians, but about others’ efforts,” Pompeo said.
Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Deb Reichmann contributed to this report.