There is no doubt that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 election, from using social media to deepen divisions among the electorate to flat-out hacking voter registration systems in at least 18 states that we know of. Russia committed a full-scale assault on our election process, and were they ever successful. Look no further than the incompetent patsy they helped install in the White House.
Although Donald Trump repeatedly promised to strengthen election security, actions speak louder than words. And the only action the Trump administration seems to have taken is to gut the Department of Homeland Security task force responsible for protecting our elections against foreign intrusion. From the Daily Beast:
Two teams of federal officials assembled to fight foreign election interference are being dramatically downsized, according to three current and former Department of Homeland Security officials. And now, those sources say they fear the department won’t prepare adequately for election threats in 2020.
“The clear assessment from the intelligence community is that 2020 is going to be the perfect storm,” said a DHS official familiar with the teams. “We know Russia is going to be engaged. Other state actors have seen the success of Russia and realize the value of disinformation operations. So it’s very curious why the task forces were demoted in the bureaucracy and the leadership has not committed resources to prepare for the 2020 election.”
Curious, indeed. Outrageous, really. Why would they “dramatically downsize” these teams rather than dramatically expand them to protect our elections? Current and former Department of Homeland Security officials are sounding the alarm. As they told the Daily Beast, the task force is withering away ahead of the 2020 election.
One of the task forces is now half the size it was a few months ago, according to two DHS officials familiar with the task forces, and there’s no indication that DHS senior political leadership will staff it up or sustain it. Instead, there are concerns it will completely wither away. The other task force also shrank significantly shortly after the midterms, according to that official, and before its members produced a thorough assessment of what happened during the 2018 elections.
If Donald Trump and the Department of Homeland Security aren’t doing everything possible to guard against foreign interference, they are negligent in their duty. Unfit for office. As NBC News reported in the summer of 2018, Trump has done nothing to protect against foreign interference.
“The President has made it clear that his administration will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections from any nation state or other malicious actors,” the White House said in a statement afterward.
But current and former officials tell NBC News that 19 months into his presidency, there is no coherent Trump administration strategy to combat foreign election interference — and no single person or agency in charge.
In the statement, the White House took issue with that, saying a strategy was put in motion when Trump took office. No such strategy has been made public — or even mentioned before. [Emphasis added.]
There is no strategy. Couple that with the “dramatic downsizing” of the DHS election task force teams, and we are barreling toward trouble in 2020.