It has become fairly clear after Trump’s first year in office, that he and his administration are in no way strangers to the idea of controversy. Yet, aside from the derogatory remarks aimed at his opponents and divisive policies targeting marginalized communities, the foremost issue that tops all others is that of the potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials in interfering with the 2016 presidential elections.
As the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller continues bring about new pieces of evidence on a near-daily basis, the administration has done everything in their power to belittle the information at hand, and deflect attention away from the inquiry. However, since beginning their investigation, the Mueller team has found insurmountable evidence that, whether through the help of Trump officials or not, Russian agents did have an influential role on the previous elections through means of propaganda and social media outreach.
With the 2018 midterm elections approaching quickly, not even Trump officials can deny the fact that Russia may be looking to yet again target and influence the outcome of another crucial U.S. election. According to a TIME Magazine report,
‘Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Russia has determined that cyber operations to disrupt the 2016 presidential campaign was “a success,” and this year’s midterms is the next likely target. With voting in some parts of the country beginning in March, the intelligence community is educating state and local governments for the attacks, he said.’
In making the remarks in front of Congress on Tuesday, Coats was joined by other top members of the intelligence community, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo and National Security Agency (NSA) Director Mike Rogers. The officials further outlined the perceived methods that Russian agents would use to infiltrate the midterm elections, including a vast expansion of their efforts on social media, using content and articles online to influence the views of voting citizens.
Director of National Intelligence Coats: “There should be no doubt that Russia perceives that its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.” https://t.co/0ufYxa2uu3 pic.twitter.com/adBzmSHMSu
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 13, 2018
Coats reiterated to the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia has not only become emboldened by their successes in the 2016 elections, but that it is likely such cyber attacks will only continue to grow more aggressively and abundantly unless state and local governments are properly educated on effectively handling the oncoming attacks.
Trump’s choice to be DNI, Dan Coats, with a stark warning in testimony to Senate Intel: “There should be no doubt that Russia views … the 2018 midterm elections” as another target to attack
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 13, 2018
Whereas the nation’s top intelligence officials have reaffirmed that Russia did interfere with the 2016 presidential elections, Donald Trump has taken every opportunity to downplay and discredit the role or influence that Kremlin agents may have had on the outcome of the race. Likely as a means of both protecting his own confidence in the victory, as well as mitigating the attention around Mueller’s investigation, Trump is dangerously belittling the reality of Russian attacks on American values and ideals.
With the midterm elections less than a month away for some states, the administration’s focus should not be on disproving Russia’s blatant meddling, but rather informing relevant agencies and local governments about how they can protect the integrity of their votes in the case of a cyber attack. As Trump continues to look out for his own interests, he is doing so at the expense of the nation’s democratic values.
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