Mueller Report Confirms Extreme Vulnerability of American Elections


Addressing foreign interference should be treated as a national priority because it is an urgent national security threat

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Attorney General William Barr released a redacted version of the “Report on the Investigation of Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.” Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation found three main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct a disinformation campaign and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, with the aim of interfering with the election. The Special Counsel brought criminal charges against 12 Russian citizens and three Russian entities for conspiracy to defraud the United States. The second element involved the Russian government's successful computer hacking operations that obtained and disseminated emails through intermediaries to influence the election. The third is the large number of contacts between Russians and senior officials of the Trump campaign, including Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner.

Trevor Potter, President of Campaign Legal Center (CLC), and a former Republican Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, released the following statement:

“The Mueller report’s findings highlight the need to treat foreign interference as a national priority because it is an urgent national security threat. Details uncovered in the investigation lay bare the extent to which Russia conducted an organized campaign of information warfare against America with the goal of spreading chaos and distrust in our elections. The facts are disturbing: millions of Americans went to the ballot box in 2016 without knowing that a foreign adversary had taken extraordinary steps to pose as American political activists online, purchase political ads, and hack a major party nominee and campaign committee. While the Special Counsel found that the activity of the Trump campaign did not meet the high standards for a criminal felony indictment, the report is replete with evidence of contacts and meetings with foreign actors seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election. 

Russia spent a large sum of money on ads that explicitly supported or opposed a presidential candidate. These ads were not subject to reporting – and Congress must work to change this law for digital ads. It is time to focus on how we can strengthen our election system to prevent foreign interference through illicit online activity, and to clarify our campaign laws so that the opportunity no longer exists for foreign actors to influence elections. We should work to find consensus among our leaders in Washington on transparency measures that would shine a light on foreign money pouring into American elections. We cannot lose sight of the message Mueller delivered with this investigation: a foreign adversary tried to subvert American democracy and they – or other countries that do not wish the U.S. or our democracy well – will do it again if given the chance. Our country’s longstanding concerns about foreign interference are rooted in democratic self-governance and national sovereignty. American people of all political stripes – regardless of who they voted for in 2016 – should look beyond one election outcome and call on Congress to protect our country from any foreign entity that may use the Russian model to intervene in 2020 and beyond.”