December 18, 2018

CNN's Alysin Camerota tried to pin down exactly what the U.S. can do to fight back against the attacks by Russian trolls on our democratic voting process -- attacks that are still ongoing.

"We have learned that Russians did not stop after President Trump's win," she said. "An analysis shows that Russian trolls targeted Robert Mueller after he was named special counsel and a host of other things that you probably read on your social media accounts."

She introduced Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, by first describing the attacks.

"The findings of this report are so chilling because it turns out out that the Russian interference was so much deeper and more insidious even than we knew, and it's hard to see how any American was immune from this. Here are some of the things that they tried to inject toxicity into our world -- not just the election, they aimed to increase support for Julian Assange, aimed to erode support for Robert Mueller and James Comey, they specifically targeted African-Americans, really sowing discord in that community, trying to gin up outrage," she said.

"They pushed turnout depression, saying 'stay home on election day, your vote doesn't matter.' They did all sorts of text-to-vote scams, they created confusion about voting rules, they diverted candidate support, they tried to suggest voting for a third party and it continues to this day. They're still doing it. I just don't know how anybody can trust, frankly, when they see a meme on their social media account now."

"Well, Alisyn, the information that you're using is coming from the Senate Intelligence committee. Earlier this year in January, I issued a report from the Senate Foreign Relations committee talking about Russia's asymmetric arsenal against democracies, not only here in the United States but around Europe," Sen. Cardin said.

"What Russia is doing is interference in our system, and the tragedy is that this administration is not taking steps to protect us. We know that Russia is going to be active --they feel more comfortable in supporting the Trump policies and the Trump institutions and we need to protect ourselves from foreign interference. This administration was very late to even acknowledging that Russia was involved. We need to take steps to protect ourselves."

"Right. So what's the answer? If you can't count on the Trump administration and evidence proves that you can't, how are people supposed to know when they're reading -- they are on social media if they are dealing with a real person or if they're dealing with a troll? What's Congress doing? What are the rest of us supposed to be doing?" Camerota asked.

"What we've seen in Europe, they have taken action against social media platforms for disclosure and accountability," the senator replied. "We have not taken adequate steps here in the United States to require social media platforms to know who they're dealing with and to make sure the public is aware where this information is coming from."

Camerota put up some examples so viewers can learn to recognize the tactics, including attacks on Robert Mueller, James Comey, and Hillary Clinton.

"There is one of Hillary Clinton here that Russian trolls put out, saying that black college students are not excited about this election, they think Hillary's a liar. None of this turns out to be true, but when you see it on your Facebook feed, you think for a minute, oh, I didn't know that. But it's not true.

"I think it's a big responsibility that people are going to have to educate themselves since they are still doing it to this day."

"Well, misinformation is a tool that's used by Russia. They use it against their own citizens in order to keep popular support for the government. Misinformation is a tool. They are using it in Russia," Sen. Cardin said.

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