December 2, 2018  |  Updated February 1, 2019

No Time for Complacency: How to Combat Foreign Interference After the Midterms

By David Salvo and Joshua Kirschenbaum
Photo Credit: Rob Crandall / Shutterstock

From cabinet officials in the Trump administration to the social media platform companies, there has been widespread acknowledgement in the United States that the Russian government and other authoritarian states targeted the midterm elections and will continue to interfere in U.S. democracy. The administration and Congress have tools at their disposal to raise the costs on those who interfered in the midterms and to deter authoritarian actors from interfering in U.S. democratic institutions and processes in the future. These include punitive measures like sanctions, defensive steps like improving election security and regulating political advertisement online, and congressional oversight functions to hold the administration accountable and keep pressure on tech companies to secure their platforms from manipulation.

Full implementation of Executive Order 13848, which President Donald Trump signed on September 12, is a crucial first step to signal to adversaries that interfering in U.S. elections will not be tolerated. The intelligence community is already getting started on implementing the order’s directive for the director of national intelligence (DNI) to deliver a report on foreign interference in a federal election by reporting on the attempt during the midterms. E.O. 13848 defines foreign interference broadly to include:

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