Russian deception influenced election due to Trump's support, senators hear
Donald Trump’s willingness to embrace Russian disinformation was one of the reasons Russia’s interference in the 2016 election worked, the Senate panel investigating the president’s alleged ties to the country heard on Thursday.
Decades of Russian covert attempts to undermine confidence in western institutions, including planting or promoting false news stories or spreading doubt about the integrity of elections, will accelerate in the future unless the US confronts so-called “active measures”, several experts testified to the Senate intelligence committee.
“Part of the reason active measures have worked in this US election is because the commander-in-chief has used Russian active measures at time [sic] against his opponents,” said [Former FBI Special Agent] Clint Watts of George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security.
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When asked why the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, felt the 2016 US election provided the Kremlin an opportunity to intervene – the consensus position of US intelligence agencies – Watts pointed to Trump.
Wittingly or not, Trump and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, embraced and promoted narratives, including false ones, convenient to Russian interests, including a fake story about a terrorist attack on the Turkish airbase at Incirlik used by US forces and baselessly doubting the US citizenships of Barack Obama and Ted Cruz.
“On 11 October, President Trump stood on stage and cited what appears to be a fake news story from [the Russian propaganda outlet] Sputnik News that disappeared from the internet. He denies the intel from the United States about Russia. He claimed that the election could be rigged – that was the number-one theme pushed by RT, Sputnik News,” Watts testified.
And Trump supporters still believe every word.