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Wed Sep 4, 2019, 07:40 AM

David Corn: How to Stop Russia From Attacking and Influencing the 2020 Election

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/09/how-to-stop-russia-from-attacking-and-influencing-the-2020-election/

How to Stop Russia From Attacking and Influencing the 2020 Election
A new report offers a roadmap. If only Trump gave a damn.
David Corn


The Russians are coming.

That’s the message about the 2020 election from FBI Director Chris Wray (who this summer said Moscow is determined to interfere in the next presidential contest) and from former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats (who warned that Vladimir Putin’s regime and other foreign actors will concoct new methods for messing with American politics in 2020). Yet Donald Trump and his administration have done little to signal that thwarting another Russian attack—or an assault on the election from any other source—is a priority. In the months before Kirstjen Nielsen was booted from her post as Department of Homeland Security secretary, she was instructed not to raise with Trump the issue of preventing Russian interference in 2020. (Any talk of Russia’s attempted subversion of US elections apparently irks Trump—as it should, for his election victory is indeed tainted by Moscow’s intervention.) And Trump, who has never fully acknowledged Putin’s attack in 2016, recently noted that he would accept secret help, in the form of dirt on a political rival, from a foreign government for his reelection campaign. That remark, his call to allow Russia to reenter the G8, and his general Russia-didn’t-do-anything stance certainly send a signal to Putin: Feel free to do it again. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked votes on a variety of election security bills.

All of this is particularly maddening because there are steps the US government could take to prevent a repeat of 2016 or something worse. A new report released by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, chronicles what other Western governments have done to counter Moscow’s efforts and outlines steps that could be adopted in the United States to beat back an attack on the next election. (CAP was founded by John Podesta, who certainly cares a lot about Russian attacks: When he was chair of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, his emails were hacked by Russian operatives and leaked by WikiLeaks through the final four weeks of the 2016 campaign.)

snip//

So what can the United States gather from all of this? Well, not surprisingly, CAP has drawn some lessons and proposes a set of recommendations. The first lesson: “A forceful government response is the most important deterrent and mitigating factor.” And that would entail sending Moscow a “clear, bipartisan message” to keep away or risk severe punishment, including tough sanctions. Lesson two: Develop situational awareness among voters. As the authors put it, “Public awareness about foreign influence campaigns is perhaps the single most important defense against such interference and an essential tool toward building a resilient democracy.” The paper recommends that Congress hold hearings to highlight how Russia supports fringe political outfits around the world and that legislators should require the government to notify the public when foreign interference in American politics is detected. CAP also calls for media outlets to “refuse to quote stolen material that clearly has been released as part of an influence operation by a foreign power, as this creates a reward or incentive for Russia to hack and release stolen information.” It urges the adoption of a paper-ballot system and stricter regulation of foreign money in US political campaigns.

This is a fine wish list. There are obviously some immediate roadblocks, such as Trump, Trump, and Trump. And, oh yes, the Republicans. Trump and his cronies will not be formulating a robust, comprehensive, and bipartisan strategy to impede Putin anytime soon. McConnell has even managed to bring the Federal Election Commission, which could more vigorously investigate the flow of foreign money into American politics, to a standstill. (In 2016, McConnell single-handedly prevented the Obama administration from presenting a bipartisan warning to the public by refusing to participate in any effort to call out Moscow, perhaps fearing that would place him at odds with then-candidate Trump, who was falsely claiming Russia was not interfering in the election.) And it will be damn hard to persuade American reporters to eschew hacked material that is publicly released. Moreover, the US voting system is a crazy quilt of local systems, many under-financed; it is difficult to implement defensive reforms that cover all of it.

But this report shows that American democracy need not be vulnerable to Moscow manipulation or assaults from other quarters. Even with Trump and his GOP comrades refusing to honor their obligation to defend the country, other players can take defensive actions. Political parties, individual members of Congress, government officials not under Trump’s thumb, media outlets, and local election officials can proceed on their own with a variety of measures that will render it tougher for foreign adversaries to subvert American democracy. What matters most is will. Government officials, political professionals, the media, and the voters have to give a damn. If they do, there are ideas to implement—even if Trump has no interest in impeding Putin.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 07:42 AM

1. Love David Corn. A real journalist.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 07:59 AM

2. Good article. One detail: McConnell did NOT single-handedly

take any of his egregious, traitorous actions.

The Republican caucus has always had the ability to remove him from his position as majority leader and elect another. They elected him and they can unelect him.

Sure, Republican caucuses tend to be authoritarian and hierarchical in nature, and sure this has never been done before. But senators are all enormously powerful individually and assume a great duty to their nation when elected, and all Republican senators are using their power to support his decisions.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 08:12 AM

3. The list of suggestions are all wonderful

It would be nice to think that at least some of them would happen, but we know that is not going to be the case.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 08:31 AM

4. Wow, how can refusing to honor their obligation to defend the country

Not be a traitorous act?

Gee, Comey maybe you should have been putting out letters about Russia's interference in our elections instead of about Hillary's e-mails.

The FBI, twittering their fingers while our country turns into an annex of Russia.......useless. Even Mueller (former FBI) didn't have the guts to bring charges.

Kids you better start learning Russian.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 08:51 AM

5. Nice idea but righty media will go along with Trump and continue to subvert and support Russian

interference. Not to mention an even worse villain Facebook. So you will have most Republicans living in denial believing Russian election interference as nothing more than liberal lies. We have to beat these Republicans to an electoral pulp. A win so huge that the Democrats can unilaterally make structural changes to elections and society as a whole to bury these traitors and begin a new era of progressive change. Democrats must bury the Republican Party for a generation so they can take their place in history as governing during the worst period in American history.

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Response to Pepsidog (Reply #5)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 10:39 AM

12. righty media depends heavily on rw radio to do the heavy repetition. monitoring it and

offense directed at it can disrupt their entire propaganda operation.

the talk radio blowhards are well coordinated, mostly only repeating the essential elements and AI makes it inexcusable for media and political orgs, even the social media companies, not to digitize talk radio and make it available for analysis. it's hard to do anything about something totally made up and blasted out on social media but the talk radio reinforcement of that kind of bullshit means something, takes it mainstream and makes it acceptable on fox and other media.

analyzing and fact checking talk radio content would include a lot of correction of the alternate reality that has been established over months and decades. that crap is what a lot of the russian trolling piggybacks and it would help identify the bullshit.

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Response to certainot (Reply #12)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 11:18 AM

13. How to fight back against lies to a public that is all to willing to believe the lies is a thorny

problem indeed. AI is certainly a good start to combat Russian propaganda and rw hate radio. Something has to get through to these people. My brother in law is a successful developer. He is a great businessman but uneducated in the traditional sense. I was with him over Labor Day at his waterfront property at the Jersey shore. We went on a boat ride in his brand new $600,000 boat. I was shocked to see tons of blue Trump flags flying on high end yachts docked in Cape May, NJ. Facebook has so distorted his view of the world that all our problems are caused by Obama, The Clintons, and the Clinton Foundation. Hillary, according to my brother in law, is personally responsible for the deaths of over 45 people. How do we fight this kind of crazy?

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Response to Pepsidog (Reply #13)

Thu Sep 5, 2019, 03:18 PM

17. imo to see their talk radio gods discredited would help. i think there's a good chance mueller ran

into russian use of talk radio - such as with manafort using limbaugh in 2008 to push palin on mccain on behalf of his russian billionaire friends. if we ever see the unredacted version i'll bet it's got some talk radio references and i wouldn't be surprised if one of the spinoffs is about talk radio. the dem party needs can do a lot of damage by pushing that in their hearings. they need to ask even if it's just asking questions that don't get answered. they need to ask sam nunberg about when he was ordered to listen to 1000s of hrs of talk radio for trump in 2014, and cohen needs to be asked if his relationship with hannity ever involved payola, etc. (why is hannity's name redacted in the mueller report? it should be there in the glossary between graf and hawker, but that name is redacted) sshowing the russians have been feeding and piggybacking talk radio gods like limbaugh will help convince them.

any real actions to end the dem party and left org ignorance of talk radio will help. people believe all that shit a lot easier if no one gets in their face to call them liars and putin stooges

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 08:53 AM

6. Thank You for posting this...K and R no text.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 09:30 AM

7. National Telethon

Public awareness about foreign influence campaigns is perhaps the single most important defense against such interference and an essential tool toward building a resilient democracy.”


I know, sounds hokey, but it could have enormous impact. Hollywood liberals could organize. Get the best talent. Announce it as a "protect the vote" event. Play excepts of Mueller's warnings. Talk about how trump and GOP have done nothing. And the telethon is the only way.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 09:32 AM

8. I can see a huge backfire for the Publican Party.

They refuse to spend $ on protecting our elections system from other countries interfering. Well, China may have the most to gain by helping get rid of trump. I'd bet their computer experts can way outdo Russia in hacking computers and elections.

Karma may strike them.

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Response to safeinOhio (Reply #8)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 11:20 AM

14. After Bush we thought Rs were finished as a party, we were wrong. Let's hope we bury them for good

in 2020.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 09:52 AM

9. Paper ballots ONLY!

There is no reason the people of this country need to now who won an election before the go to bed on election night. If it takes a month that's perfectly acceptable if we know our elections are correct and uncompromised. We need to start slowing our lives down anyway. I'm convinced stress causes heart disease, along with other health issues.

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Response to SergeStorms (Reply #9)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 11:21 AM

15. Agree totally.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 10:12 AM

10. What matters most is will...........................

"What matters most is will. Government officials, political professionals, the media, and the voters have to give a damn."

And there you have it...

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 10:32 AM

11. Trump can't win without their help.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 4, 2019, 04:18 PM

16. Putin loves his Moscow Mitch

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