Recently, the US released a report on Russia’s interference in electoral races. The intelligence was requested by former president Barack Obama in his last weeks in office. According to the document, the intelligence community has developed substantial evidence that Russian operatives compromised state websites or voter registration systems in seven states prior to the election of 2016. As reported by the NBC News who cited three US high-ranking officials as their sources, the interference affected the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and Wisconsin. At the same time, all officials who spoke to the media outlet agreed that no votes had been changed in any way. “To this day, six of the seven states deny they were breached, based on their own cyber investigations. It is a discrepancy that underscores how unprepared some experts think America is for the next wave of Russian interference that intelligence officials say is coming,” the NBC News reports.
Meanwhile, head of the National Security Agency and commander of the Cyber Command Admiral Mike Rogers made a remarkable statement regarding the situation around alleged Russian interference in the US electoral races. In particular, he stressed that US President Donald Trump had not authorized him to prevent Russian cyber interference with US elections, the Voice of America reports. “I have never been given any specific direction to take additional steps outside my authority,” he said. According to him, Russian President Vladimir Putin has “clearly come to the conclusion that there is little price to pay (for its US election interference) and that therefore, ‘I can continue this activity.’”
In response to such statements, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders only said that the administration was taking a number of steps to prevent this and going to continue to implement them over the coming weeks and months.
“Rogers’s remarks reinforce statements he and the nation’s other top intelligence chiefs made earlier this month declaring that Russia is continuing efforts to disrupt the US political system and is targeting the 2018 election,” The Washington Post commented on the official’s statement in an article.
“THE CONGRESS IS INCREASINGLY DECISIVE”
The Day asked Americanist, Professor of Borys Hrinchenko University of Kyiv Oleksandr TSVIETKOV to comment on this news.
“These are not the first facts showing this interference. The entire intelligence community in the US has been confidently reporting interference and cyber attack attempts targeting the country’s political system.
“The situation in Washington is now critical in this area, since the White House is not giving any direct orders to intensify the fight against Russian-based interference. Therefore, members of the Congress, especially those from the Democratic Party, are asking why no additional measures are being taken. After all, the midterm election that will take place in November this year is approaching, and there is a very real danger that such interference will continue.
“One can consider, in the context of Admiral Rogers’s statements, that his current authority is insufficient. According to him, he needs additional powers in order to achieve greater results and guarantee that such interference will not take place in the fall of this year. The White House’s answer reflects its attempts to find different approaches to this matter. For example, the Department of State has agreed to allocate 40 million dollars to oppose Russian and Chinese propaganda inside the country. But this is a slightly different aspect of the matter, because it confronts propaganda being spread through the press. Meanwhile, cyber attacks are a new phenomenon and they have never reached this magnitude before, so the US faces a challenge, as it does not know yet whether it will be able to offer a confident response by the fall.”
In your opinion, what should Donald Trump do to protect the US from Russian interference in elections?
“A whole set of different conflicts and problems intersect here. The president, of course, does not want such measures to be linked to the 2016 election campaign and the fact that Russia’s cyber interference helped him win that election. This is his personal perception, so he is not that active in giving directions to intensify this fight. Moreover, the team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller also digs deep into this issue, and they will now look into businesses and incomes of the Trump Organization and his entire family to find out whether there is any connection with foreign influences there. This is why this issue is so critical now. The Congress is increasingly decisive in its demands that special measures be taken by the executive branch, and especially intelligence agencies. Meanwhile, on the side of the administration, we see mostly support for public and civic initiatives for now.”
And how do you comment on the news that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has had his security clearance downgraded?
“People are talking about it now because this issue has been finally resolved, but it was debated for a relatively long time. Experts link it to the White House chief of staff’s decision to narrow the circle of people who have access to top-level classified documents.
“It means that Trump’s son-in-law will now have access only to information on matters that he directly supervises on behalf of the president, that is, only within his own remit. Prior to that, he, as a family member and as a person who had direct access to the president in a private family way, had access to top-level classified documents. It is now limited, and this decision is welcomed by all US political forces.”