Trump Should Publicly 'Reinforce the Danger' of Foreign Election Meddling Ahead of 2020, Senate Report Says

One of the best measures President Donald Trump could take to help combat foreign interference through social media in the 2020 election would be to publicly address the matter in order to inform the public of the dangers associated with it, according to a bipartisan report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

The congressional panel investigated Russia's efforts to influence America's 2016 election by spreading false information through social media campaigns. The conclusions reaffirmed past findings by the intelligence community, which detiled how Russia sought to influence the election's outcome by "harming Hillary Clinton's chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin."

"The Committee recommends that the Executive Branch should, in the run up to the 2020 election, reinforce with the public the danger of attempted foreign interference in the 2020 election," the committee's report stated.

The report also found that Russia's Internet Research Agency—a notorious Russian "troll" farm—sought to "sow discord in American politics and society" by dividing Americans on issues like race, immigration and the Second Amendment, targeted black Americans more than any other cohort and increased its online activity after the 2016 election.

To counter such attacks, the report also recommended that social media companies take steps to improve information sharing between the public and private sector. Furthermore, it advised Congress to pass new laws to deter social media influence and ensure cooperation between social media companies and government agencies and that candidates and campaigns "scrutinize sourcing" before sharing content that could be false.

The report came in the midst of a scandal centered on Trump pressuring foreign leaders, including in Ukraine and China, to investigate a political foe—former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The report was issued by Republican and Democratic staffs of the committee.

senate report trump reinforce election interference dangers
Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) (L) and Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) talk to reporters on June 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee released a report on foreign election interference Tuesday amid a scandal centered on the president's requests to foreign leaders to investigate a political adversary. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

"By flooding social media with false reports, conspiracy theories, and trolls, and by exploiting existing divisions, Russia is trying to breed distrust of our democratic institutions and our fellow Americans," Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

The panel's top Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), warned in a statement that, with the upcoming general election, "there's no doubt that bad actors will continue to try to weaponize the scale and reach of social media platforms to erode public confidence and foster chaos."

A bill cosponsored by Warner, the Honest Ads Act, would require social media companies to publicly disclose the identity of those who purchase political advertisements in order to make it harder for foreign entities, such as Russia, to spread false information in the future.

However, the bill has not advanced in the chamber since being introduced in May.

"We need to demand transparency around social media to prevent our adversaries from hiding in its shadows," Warner said.

Trump Should Publicly 'Reinforce the Danger' of Foreign Election Meddling Ahead of 2020, Senate Report Says | Politics