Collusion Or Not, Russian Election Interference Is An Issue

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In this Wednesday, May 9, 2018, photo, Pamela Hampton votes in Sandy Springs, Ga. (John Bazemore/AP)
In this Wednesday, May 9, 2018, photo, Pamela Hampton votes in Sandy Springs, Ga. (John Bazemore/AP)

With Jane Clayson

With or without collusion, Russia’s threat to American elections is real and ongoing. We explore vulnerabilities and fixes with top cybersecurity experts.

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Natasha Bertrand, staff writer at The Atlantic covering national security and politics. (@natashabertrand)

Tim Starks, covers cybersecurity for Politico and writes its Morning Cybersecurity newsletter. (@timstarks)

Molly McKew, professor at Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service. (@MollyMcKew)

From The Reading List

Vox: "Russia is a threat to American democracy, with or without collusion" — "Donald Trump’s campaign didn’t collude with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election, according to the attorney general’s summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, and it doesn’t seem like Trump obstructed the investigation into whether or not it did.

"That’s leading the pro-Trump crowd, like former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, to try to stifle any further conversation about matters connected to the probe. 'This is a complete home run for the president,' he said on ABC News on Sunday. 'There should be no more talk of Russia.'

"But there’s a pretty major problem with that line of reasoning: Even without evidence of collusion, Russia remains a major threat to American democracy."

NPR: "Next Steps And Big Unanswered Questions As The Nation Moves Into Post-Mueller Era" — "Mueller's office has been the single biggest source of information for the public about how the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

"The synopsis Barr gave to Congress recounted two well-known aspects of that campaign: The social media agitation wrought by the troll factory known as the "Internet Research Agency" and the hacking, theft and release of information that embarrassed political targets in the United States.

"Barr's letter calls those the 'two main efforts' by Russia to influence the election, but it doesn't detail other, non-"main" aspects of the attack on the election that also have been established.

"Those included Russia's cyberattacks against state election systems and, potentially, its use of fraudulent documents and attempts at infiltration of politically influential U.S organizations.

"There also have been big questions posed about other potential types of interference, ones so far only hinted at in information available to the public."

The Atlantic: "What Mueller Leaves Behind" — "After one year, 10 months, and six days, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his final report to the attorney general, signaling the end of his investigation into a potential conspiracy between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.

"Mueller’s pace has been breakneck, legal experts tell me—especially for a complicated criminal investigation that involves foreign nationals and the Kremlin, an adversarial government. The next-shortest special-counsel inquiry was the three-and-a-half-year investigation of the Plame affair, under President George W. Bush; the longest looked into the Iran-Contra scandal, under President Ronald Reagan, which lasted nearly seven years. Still, former FBI agents have expressed surprise that Mueller ended his probe without ever personally interviewing its central target: Donald Trump.

"The content of the special counsel’s report is still unknown—Mueller delivered it to Attorney General William Barr on Friday, and now it’s up to Barr to write his own summary of the findings, which will then go to Congress.

"While aspects of the central pieces of Mueller’s investigation—conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and kompromat, the Russians’ practice of collecting damaging information about public figures to blackmail them with—have been revealed publicly through indictments and press-friendly witnesses, the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency, and Mueller’s own legacy, still hang in the balance. Did Trump’s campaign knowingly work with Russia to undermine Hillary Clinton and win the election? And how much was Mueller actually able to uncover?"


Fox News: "Donna Brazile: What we really need to learn from the Mueller report" — "Yes, the Mueller report is about the 2016 election. But, more importantly, it’s about our upcoming elections. We can’t stop anything from happening again if we don’t know what happened before.

"Right now, Attorney General Barr is deciding what from the Mueller report can be shared. What absolutely must be shared is a commitment to making sure foreign interference in our elections never happens again.

"The Mueller report undoubtedly contains information vital to safeguarding the integrity of our elections, which can’t be guaranteed without guaranteeing the integrity of this report. And the only way to guarantee that is to release the report in its entirety.

"If the Mueller report results in a commitment to making our electoral systems safe and secure, then we’ve learned everything we need to learn by reading it."

Fortune: "Electronic Voting Systems Are Buggy But Needed" — "The security of electronic voting systems has become a hot button issue in recent years. Just last week researchers disclosed that they uncovered a critical flaw in an electronic voting system Switzerland plans to roll out. The vulnerability, which the system’s developers acknowledged and said they will fix, would allow an attacker to manipulate votes undetected. The Swiss government said it still planned to use the system in upcoming elections, including one slated for later this month.

"'Let us not downplay this,' commented Sarah Jamie Lewis, one of the bug-discoverers and an executive director of the Open Privacy Research Society, a Canadian non-profit, in a post on Twitter. 'This code is intended to secure national elections. Election security has a direct impact on the distribution of power within a democracy. The public has a right to know everything about the design and implementation of the system.'

"Lewis broadcasted her findings rather than privately reporting them to the relevant authorities and keeping quiet, as a Swiss government bug bounty program stipulated. She framed her decision as a matter of principle: In a democracy, everyone deserves to know about issues that could potentially affect elections. Now she is alleging that the voting software contains other unfixed bugs, though they are less serious than the headline-grabbing flaw. She is urging the Swiss government to reconsider adopting the technology until 'many critical questions have been answered.' "

Stefano Kotsonis produced this hour for broadcast.

This program aired on March 26, 2019.



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