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.
A new brief from the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Moscow Project shows that, based on public reporting and indictments by special counsel Robert Mueller, there are at least 272 known contacts between Trump’s team and Russia-linked operatives during the campaign and transition, including at least 38 meetings.
Russia is a relatively weak state on the international stage. A former great power, today it has a gross domestic product roughly equal to that of New York state; this feeds into the country’s insecurity about its role in the world and its economic and military strength compared with those of its chief competitors. Russia knows it cannot compete with the West on an even playing field. Thus, it has developed a shadowy, asymmetric strategy to subvert opponents and alter the global status quo. A key part of this approach is the country’s strategic use of ambiguity. As the United States responds to these attacks, and seeks to prevent future ones, it must take into account that public transparency, as well as its relationships with allies, are integral to any effective response.
The Trump campaign knew Russia was attacking the 2016 election and chose to aid and abet rather than report that effort. There is only one explanation: collusion.
The Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russian government in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has become the defining scandal of the administration so far. This report lays out the overwhelming evidence of that collusion, exploring its underpinnings going back decades to create a cohesive explanation for how—and why—the Trump campaign and the Kremlin worked together to install Trump in the White House.