A bipartisan Senate report released Tuesday urges the Trump administration, Congress and Silicon Valley tech companies to work aggressively to prevent Russia from interfering in next year’s election, particularly via social media.
The 85-page report is part two of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, after an investigation that took two and a half years. The committee is led by Republicans, but Democrats actively supported the investigation’s findings.
The report as released Tuesday is heavily redacted, but its conclusions are right there in black-and-white:
“The Committee found that [Russian] social media activity was overtly and almost invariably supportive of then-candidate Trump to the detriment of Secretary Clinton’s campaign,” the report says.
The investigation further found “that Russia’s targeting of the 2016 U.S. presidential election was part of a broader, sophisticated and ongoing information warfare campaign … a vastly more complex and strategic assault on the United States than was initially understood,” the report says.
And the Intelligence Committee chairman, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), told reporters this “assault” has never ended.
“Russia is waging an information warfare campaign against the U.S. that didn’t start and didn’t end with the 2016 election,” Burr said.
“Their goal is broader: to sow societal discord and erode public confidence in the machinery of government. By flooding social media with false reports, conspiracy theories, and trolls, and by exploiting existing divisions, Russia is trying to breed distrust of our democratic institutions and our fellow Americans,” he added.
Unlike previous investigations, the Senate report “offers a litany of recommendations for technology companies, government agencies and lawmakers to better guard against future attempts to use the internet against American voters,” says the Wall Street Journal, adding that Congress should find ways to boost cooperation between social-media companies and government agencies.
“While the report tracks closely with the previous findings of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and several independent researchers, the comprehensiveness and forcefulness of the report’s conclusions are striking in light of Trump’s efforts to minimize the impact of Russian interference in the election that brought him to office,” says the Washington Post.
The first part of the committee’s report, released in July, said voting systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russian agents ahead of the 2016 election. They sought to influence African Americans and conservatives in particular, via Facebook, its subsidiary Instagram and other social-media outlets.
The earlier report said the 2016 Russian campaign reached 126 million people on Facebook and 20 million on Instagram.
The White House had no comment, but Trump has previously “questioned the findings by U.S. intelligence officials that the 2016 election was a target of Russian manipulation.”