Russian Interference in American Politics

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How You Can Resist
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."
  • Find out when your Senators and US Representative are holding town halls and come prepared with specific questions about possible Russian interference in our elections.
  • Find calls to action at the Action Hub and through the Action Alliance.

Recent Updates

  • 4/22/17: Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department is preparing charges against WikiLeaks's Julian Assange for publishing stolen data. This suggests that the Trump administration may break with the usual practice, in which the person who committed the theft is legally liable but those who publish the information are not.[1]Similarly, CIA Director Mike Pompeo recently described Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as a non-state hostile intelligence service.[2]

You can learn more at the Wikileaks Role in Election Interference page.

Voting Rights
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.[3][4][5]


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 ways that reduced their chances of winning the nomination.[6]Within the Democratic party, Russia was already actively promoting negative stories about Hillary Clinton during the primaries.[7]

Putin also directed interference in several races for the House of Representatives, including several in Florida, an important swing state.[8]

Government officials have warned that the success of Russian interference in the 2016 US election will embolden them to continue interfering, both here and abroad.[9][10][11]

Why Russia Influenced the 2016 US Elections

Russia’s campaign to influence the 2016 election was conducted in order to:[12][13][14]:

  • 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.

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, 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.[15][16] Today, this type of warfare includes both covert and overt techniques to promote the Putin regime's agenda.[17][18]

Putin used the following tactics in the US:[19][20]:

  • Cyber-crime
  • Weaponizing information
  • Propaganda
  • Kompromat (collecting or creating compromising information)

Putin may have used the following tactics in the US:

  • Corruption


Vladimir Putin’s security services have several teams of hackers, some of which are known as CYBER BEARS.[21]Two of these teams gained access to Republican and Democratic officials, private US citizens, think tanks, and political campaigns.[22][23]They stole thousands of documents, emails, notes, and even voicemail messages.[24]

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.[25])The states hacked by Russia include Florida, Illinois, and Arizona.[26]This data may also have been used to shape social media attacks in key swing states including Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.[27]

Weaponized Information

While information theft is common among most nations, Russian agents weaponized information in 2016, which is unusual.[28]Using the persona of Guccifer 2.0 and, 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.[29]


You can learn more by at the Wikileaks Role in Election Interference page.

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.[30]Putin instructed his security services to generate fake news, or propaganda, that could damage Hillary Clinton.[31][32]

Eventually this fake news appeared on media outlets, some of which are now under investigation by the FBI for their role in spreading Russian propaganda:[33][34][35][36][37]

  • 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.[38][39][40][41][42]


Kompromat/Compromising Information


According to the authors of the report The Kremlin Playbook, corruption is the use of power, position, or resources to influence business, individuals, or government through non-transparent and questionable means, not necessarily illegal.[43]While there is now 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.[44]. Trump has refused to release his tax returns, so it is difficult to detail his financial ties, including with Russia.[45].

See Financial Connections Between Trump Organization and Russia to learn more.

Communications and Possible Collusion between Trump and Putin

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:[46]

 "I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed."

Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, stated that there is significant evidence of these links:[47]

 “I can tell you that the case is more than that. And I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now. … I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial, and is very much worthy of investigation.”

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:

Trump and his associates have repeatedly said that they did not have any contact with Russian officials before the election.[48]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.[49]

For more information, please visit Timeline of Communication between Trump and Russia.