Russian Interference in American Politics
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
This is a collaborative knowledge base; feel free to propose edits/additions that you believe are important for others to know. Contributions will be reviewed and approved based on quality and accuracy.
- 1 How You Can Resist
- 2 Recent Updates
- 3 Russian Interference in US Politics
- 4 Why Russia Influenced the 2016 US Elections
- 5 How Russia Attempted to Influence the 2016 US Election
- 6 Connections Between Trump/Trump Associates and Putin/Russia
How You Can Resist
- Call your representatives in the Senate and House of Representatives by dialing tel:844-6-RESIST and state:
“As my elected representative, one of your most important jobs is to ensure that we have free and fair elections. We need to know if the Putin regime interfered with the very foundation of our democracy. We need an Independent Commission, like the 9/11 Commission, to fully investigate possible Russian interference and the role that the Trump campaign may have played and to make the evidence publicly available."
- Independent commissions are:
- Rare: only 7 were formed between 1989 and 2016.
- Expensive: They require full-time paid staff to conduct interviews and hearings. Congress must pass a bill to pay for a commission (an appropriations bill). This bill must be signed by the president, or else a 2/3 majority of Congress has to vote to override the veto.
- Specific: Congress must agree on what the commission will cover, who will sit on the commission (usually around 10 representatives total, from both parties) and who will be interviewed.
See what your representative has already said here.
- 7/11/17: The Times has found that Donald Trump, Jr., was offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton last summer—information that the Russian government wanted to use to help Trump in the presidential election. Trump, Jr., set up the meeting with the Russian lawyer (see below) in response to this offer. This is the most direct information we have so far that the Trump campaign worked with the Russian government to influence the presidential election.
- 7/8/17: The New York Times published a report that says that Donald Trump, Jr., met with a Russian lawyer who has ties with the Russian government in summer 2016.
- 6/26/17: President Trump has demanded an apology from former President Obama. Trump claims that Obama knew about Russian hacking during the 2016 election, but did not do anything to stop it. In a series of tweets, Trump went on to claim that Obama had colluded with Russia, and that his campaign had nothing to do with the Russian interference in the election.
- 6/25/17: Russia is recalling their ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, according to several sources . Kislyak is a central figure in the Russia investigation: he met with former national security advisor Michael Flynn, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Jared Kushner. The three men did not tell Congress about these meetings as required by law.
- 6/25/17: The New York Times reported that even Trump’s allies are getting frustrated with his denials that Russia interfered with the US election. 
- 6/23/17: President Trump released a tweet that claimed the Obama administration knew about the Russian interference in the election, but did not do anything to stop it. The tweet is possibly in response to a report by the Washington Post that goes over the steps Obama took to try and punish Russia for interfering with the election. This is the first time that the president has acknowledged that there was Russian interference in the election.
- 6/22/17: Two top US Security officials stated that Trump “suggested” that they publicly state that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia. Both officials were reportedly surprised at the request.
- 6/21/17: Russia cancelled meetings with the US over the sanctions approved by the U.S. Senate. The meeting was planned to help smooth out growing tensions between the two nations.
Russian Interference in US Politics
Vladimir Putin is still heavily involved in attempts to influence the US.
Vladimir Putin personally ordered and directed a hostile campaign against the United States during the 2016 elections. This attack was intended to inflict damage to Hillary Clinton and her campaign and to promote Donald Trump's election as president.
Putin directed interference in the primaries of both the Democrat and Republican parties. All the Republican primary candidates except Trump were targeted by Russia in attempts to discredit them. Within the Democratic party, Russia was already actively promoting negative stories about Hillary Clinton during the primaries.
Why Russia Influenced the 2016 US Elections
- Damage Hillary Clinton's campaign and assist Donald Trump's candidacy.
- Assist candidates whom Putin thought would be favorable to his agenda.
- Damage candidates whom Putin thought would challenge his agenda.
- Undermine faith in the US democratic process, both in the US and abroad.
- Drive a wedge between the US's Intelligence Community and elected officials.
- Undermine the US's position as the leader of western democracies.
- Decrease the US's commitment to NATO.
- Divide America.
How Russia Attempted to Influence the 2016 US Election
Vladimir Putin ordered a wide-ranging and large-scale attack against the US election process. He conducted a version of New Generation Warfare, which was popular during the Soviet era. During the time of the Soviet Union (1917–1991), this type of warfare was used to influence the course of events around the world without the use of active military measures. At that time, it included installing puppet regimes, blackmail, threats and intimidation, and assassination. Today, this type of warfare includes both covert and overt techniques to promote the Putin regime's agenda.
- Weaponizing information
Vladimir Putin’s security services have several teams of hackers, some of which are known as CYBER BEARS.Two of these teams gained access to Republican and Democratic officials, private US citizens, think tanks, and political campaigns.They stole thousands of documents, emails, notes, and even voicemail messages.
Russian hackers targeted the voter registration databases of at least 24 states in the months before the election. At least four states' systems, which were vulnerable via their Internet connection, were successfully breached. (Most voting systems are not connected to the Internet.)The states hacked by Russia include Florida, Illinois, and Arizona.This data may also have been used to shape social media attacks in key swing states including Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
While information theft is common among most nations, in a first of it's kind attack in the United State Russian agents weaponized information in 2016.To turn information into a weapon the Putin regime selected specific stolen documents to release at specific times.Using the persona of Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks.com, agents released information publicly. They also used Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks, where the stolen information was released. Russian agents also released information directly to the media via their own RT and Sputnik newspapers and to members of the mainstream media.
One possible area where members of the Trump campaign, or one of his advisors, might have cooperated with the Putin regime is in the selection and timing of specific material to release via WikiLeaks.Long time Trump advisor *Roger Stone has stated publically that he was able to communicate with Julian Assange, although more recently he has denied that he did.
You can learn more about the 2016 election interference here.
Propaganda and Putin’s Media Campaign
At least as early as 2014, Putin’s agents were trying to shape the US media landscape through creating fake or biased news and spreading it through Russia-owned media outlets like RT and Sputnik. They then expanded the audience for this propaganda by promoting it over social media, especially Twitter and Facebook.Putin instructed his security services to generate fake news, or propaganda, that could damage Hillary Clinton.
- RT, a Russian- and English-language news network
- Sputnik News
- Breitbart News, which was controlled by Steve Bannon, who is now in the White House.
- Infowars, an online program hosted by Alex Jones
These stories were amplified by internet trolls, people who create fake social media accounts and post and repost links to fake news stories. In St. Petersburg, Russia, just one “troll factory” alone employs about 1,000 such people, who are paid by the Russian government.
Connections Between Trump/Trump Associates and Putin/Russia
FBI Director James Comey stated that the FBI is investigating the Russian government's interference into the US presidential election, including direct communication between Trump's campaign and the Russian government:
The connections between Donald Trump, his businesses, his campaign, and Russian businesses and financiers and agents of the Russian government are complex. The following infographics are a helpful guide.
More details about individuals' ties to Russia:
- Rex Tillerson
- Carter Page
- Paul Manafort
- Jeff Sessions
- Michael Flynn
- Jared Kushner
- Roger Stone
- Wilbur Ross
Trump and his associates have repeatedly said that they did not have any contact with Russian officials before the election.Now that campaign members are publicly admitting to having had meetings with Russian officials, Trump and his associates are denying that there was anything inappropriate about the meetings.
While there is no clear evidence that Trump and the Trump Organization have done anything illegal related to Russia, inquiries are now being made into their financial connections with Russia.. Trump has refused to release his tax returns, so it is difficult to detail his financial ties, including with Russia.. In an attempt to find out more, the congressional committee investigating Trump asked Deutsche Bank for access to their transactions related to Trump (the bank had loaned Trump money for his real estate business). The committee wanted to see whether the loans were backed or supported by Russia, but Deutsche Bank refused to hand over the documents. The committee could still possibly get a subpoena for them.
You can learn more about Trump and his associates ties to Russia and Putin here.