Lawmakers on both sides of the political divide in Washington are urging the Trump administration to increase tensions with Russia.
The Trump administration on Thursday announced sanctions against Russian entities supposedly involved in efforts to manipulate popular opinion in the U.S. during the 2016 presidential election.
As reported by McClatchy News Service:
The Trump administration is taking action against Russians who meddled in the 2016 elections, and issued a warning that hackers controlled by Russian President Vladimir Putin have tried to infiltrate the U.S. electrical grid and water system, according to U.S. national security officials.
President Donald Trump himself has not criticized Russia for its role in spreading fake news stories during the election, but the move Thursday is the strongest action taken yet against Russians for meddling. The move follows a nerve agent attack linked to Putin’s government against two Russians in Salisbury, England, and the mysterious death of another Russian man who had clashed with Putin.
The Treasury Department added sanctions against the Internet Research Agency that special counsel Robert Mueller III included in a series of indictments against Russia. Also, officials confirmed that Russian government-backed hackers were behind an attempt to infiltrate U.S. electrical grids and water services, a series of cyber attacks that is “long-term and still ongoing,” a U.S. national security official said.
But for a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Washington, that isn’t enough.
In a letter to the president, Reps. William “Mac” Thornberry (R., Texas), Adam Smith (D., Wash.), Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) and Jim Langevin (D., R.I.) are asking the White House to prioritize the the U.S.’s own version of information warfare efforts via the State Department’s Global Engagement Center.
“We write to urge you to enable and fully resource the GEC to effectively execute its roles and responsibilities in leading the United States efforts to counter the exploitation of the information environment by state and on-state actors aimed at undermining U.S. national security interests,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter released Thursday.
Trump has not yet appointed a director to the entity, which was created by President Barack Obama in 2016 to counter ISIS propaganda.
“The 2018 [National Security Strategy] identifies priority actions, such as innovation and driving effective communications that the GEC is well-poised to lead as a result of this law,” the lawmakers wrote. “We are therefore disappointed that to date your administration has not provided adequate resources, including funding and personnel, to the GEC to carry out its mission and, furthermore, that you have not yet appointed a director to lead the agency in this endeavor.”
“We implore you to immediately appoint a director of the GEC to lead our nation’s effort against this threat,” they added.