US President Donald Trump vowed on Sunday to “move forward in working constructively with Russia”, including mentions of forming a cybersecurity unit staffed by the two countries. This statement follows Russian President Vladimir Putin denying any kind of interference in the 2016 US Presidential Election.
Source: Kremlin Official Website
Trump’s commitment to partner with Putin on cybersecurity has drawn stern criticism from officials of both the main parties, some of whom have described the president as dangerously naïve for trusting his Russian counterpart in this way. Trump tweeted that he “strongly pressed” Putin twice about Russia meddling in the election during their meeting in Germany on Friday, and that Putin “vehemently denied it”.
American intelligence agencies have concluded definitively that there were attempts by Russian authorities to influence the election in Mr Trump’s favor, through illegal hacking, propaganda, and other insidious activities. However, Trump’s public statements on the issue haven’t been defensive in the least, and have varied from vague complacency to outright doubt over Russia’s role in the election.
Following the meeting at the G20 Summit earlier this month, Trump didn’t say whether he believed Putin’s denial or not, only stating “I’ve already given my opinion” at the end of his tweet. Both Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have claimed that Trump believed Putin’s assurances that Russia hadn’t meddled in the election.
However, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus disputed Putin and Lavrov’s version of events. Though Priebus wasn’t present at the meeting between the two world leaders, he said “It’s not true” on Fox News Sunday and that Trump “absolutely did not believe the denial of President Putin”.
However, the Chief of Staff later showed varying certainty over the issue, saying that president Trump “believes that Russia probably committed all of these acts that we’ve been told of. But he also believes that other countries also participated in this activity.”
Trump’s statements have all come in the form of tweets, following his three-day visit to Hamburg, where he met Putin and other world leaders. In these tweets, Trump repeated his accusation that Obama and did “nothing” after learning about Russia’s involvement in hacking Democrat email servers to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.
As more and more of the election hacking scandal has come to light, there’s been increasing talk about what can be done to protect future elections. One arm of this is new biometric technology, from companies such as Smartmatic. If integrated, this extra layer will ensure that the person voting really is who they say they are.
While there’s no evidence as of yet that ballot counting or voting was affected directly in last year’s election, many American officials are concerned that Russian saboteurs may have gained some knowledge that could help them influence elections in the future, including the 2018 mid-terms.
Both Democrat and Republican secretaries of state, who are responsible for conducting elections in many American states, have complained about a lack of information from federal intelligence officials regarding Russian interference in the last presidential election.