A Democratic staff report released Wednesday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee details what it describes as nearly two decades of “assault on democracy” by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The report says that President Donald Trump’s “refusal to publicly acknowledge the threat posed by the Russian government” has hampered efforts to mobilize government, strengthen institutions, and work with European allies to counter Putin’s interference in democracies abroad.
“Never before in American history has so clear a threat to national security been so clearly ignored by a U.S. president, and without a strong U.S. response, institutions and elections here and throughout Europe will remain vulnerable to the Kremlin’s aggressive and sophisticated malign influence operations,” according to the report.
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, D-Md., said while the extent of Russia’s “obvious” meddling in the 2016 U.S. election continues, it is imperative that the American people understand the true scope and scale of Putin’s pattern of undermining democracy.
“This threat existed long before President Trump took office, and unless he takes action now, it will continue long after his administration,” Cardin said. “While President Trump stands practically idle, Mr. Putin continues to refine his asymmetric arsenal and look for future opportunities to disrupt governance and erode support for the democratic and international institutions that the United States and Europe have built over the last 70 years.”
The report includes more than 30 recommendations, including calling on Trump to declare it is U.S. policy to deter all forms of Russian hybrid threats and creating an inter-agency fusion cell, similar to the National Counterterrorism Center, to coordinate U.S. policy in responding to Russian efforts.
Other recommendations include providing government assistance to allies most vulnerable to Russian government interference, convening an annual global summit on threats and to “expose and freeze Kremlin-linked dirty money.”