Moscow is attacking the 2020 election. But the Trump administration won't say how. - 2020-05-08
When Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), an ardent Trump partisan whom the president has nominated to lead the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, was testifying this week at his Senate confirmation hearing, he noted several times that Russia was covertly intervening in the ongoing 2020 election. This produced no thunderclap headlines. And here's the big question: Why the hell not? Moscow is again attacking American democracy, and there's not much fuss about it. Certainly not a peep from the president, who benefited from Vladimir Putin's clandestine intercession four years ago.
One reason why Ratcliffe's remarks provoked no uproar is that it is, sadly, somewhat old news, for this information has been previously and publicly stated—or understated—by US officials. Last month, when the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report confirming the intelligence community's assessment that Moscow attacked the 2016 election to help Trump, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the committee, noted there was "no reason to doubt that the Russians' success in 2016 is leading them to try again in 2020." In an appendix to that report, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) referred to "ongoing attacks" on the United States from Russia. And in a recent interview with Mother Jones, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, remarked that "Russian interference" in American politics was continuing. Intelligence officials in February warned Schiff and other House members that Russia was messing with the 2020 campaign to help Trump get reelected—a briefing that was leaked to the public—but, Schiff said, since then the Trump administration has been withholding from Congress intelligence on these Russian efforts.
The nation is in the middle of a pandemic that has consumed the lives of tens of thousands, that jeopardizes millions more, and that has demolished the economy. The United States is confronting a grave threat that could profoundly reshape much of the country. But if Russia is indeed once more targeting an American election, the country is facing, at the same time, another dangerous threat, one that could further undermine an elemental aspect of the United States: its democratic foundation. Those who know of this threat owe it to the public to be blaring warnings—and to tell the citizenry what is happening and what is being done or can be done to thwart Moscow.