To protect President Donald Trump, Senate Republicans have been pushing the debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election in order to help Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton. This isn’t just a lie; it’s Russian disinformation, designed to deflect criticism and cast doubt over Russia’s 2016 interference campaign. Russian President Vladimir Putin, unable to suppress his glee that the Republican Party has adopted his line, even told a crowd in November: “Thank God. No one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore; now they’re accusing Ukraine.”
One look at the list of potential witnesses shows why the president and his allies in Congress are trying to prevent a full impeachment trial in the Senate: The witnesses are capable of providing damning evidence against Trump.
Dmitry Firtash, sometimes spelled Dmytro, is a Ukrainian natural gas billionaire who is linked to numerous individuals who have been caught up in the Ukraine impeachment scandal, including Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. He also recently hired two lawyers close to President Donald Trump in an apparent attempt to curry favor with him as Firtash fights extradition to the United States.
After the administration blocked his initially scheduled appearance, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is now reportedly set to testify before the House under subpoena.
Over the course of almost a year, Rudy Giuliani, a private citizen serving as a personal lawyer to Donald Trump, allegedly pushed the Ukrainian government to launch an investigation into one of Trump’s most prominent potential political opponents and pursued a conspiracy theory about work done by Trump’s convicted former campaign manager Paul Manafort. These efforts are detailed in a partially-redacted whistleblower complaint that was released to the public on September 26, 2019. Giuliani has called the complaint “total nonsense” and denied all wrongdoing.
For months, a scandal of immense proportion has been bubbling below the surface, involving Rudy Giuliani and President Donald Trump trying to pressure Ukraine into opening investigations involving American citizens. In the era when there are new scandals on a weekly basis, this fairly intricate and convoluted plan had largely stayed below the surface of most political conversations in Washington. However, with the recent revelation that this plot may be at the center of the whistleblower complaint that the Trump administration is withholding from Congress, the scandal has boiled over.
America is also not the only target for Russian influence operations; democracies in Europe and around the world are combating Russian election interference. Some of these countries have dealt with this interference better than others, and there are important lessons to be derived from these experiences. With these factors in mind, this report outlines Russian election influence operations and evaluates the responses from stakeholders. It determines the lessons the United States can learn from these democracies, including what works and what does not when confronting Russian interference.