US Defense Secretary: Russia Tried to Interfere in Midterm Elections
A Russian troll farm's finance chief,Yelena Khusyainova, was indicted by the U.S. Justice Department, becoming the first person to face charges for meddling in the elections
Photo from Ukrinform
The United States defense secretary, Jim Mattis, said Saturday that Russia tried to meddle in the U.S. midterm elections last month, just as it did in the 2016 elections that brought President Donald Trump to power, AFP reports.
The already strained ties between Washington and Moscow have “no doubt” worsened over Russia’s continued attempts to interfere in the voting process, Mattis said at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California.
The Pentagon chief said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “tried again to muck around in our elections this last month, and we are seeing a continued effort along those lines.”
Mattis did not give specific evidence of the meddling, but Nadia Schadlow, a former Trump deputy national security adviser for strategy, described during a separate panel at the forum how Russia has used internet trolls and bots to spread disinformation through ads on Facebook and other social media platforms.
Ahead of last month’s voting, Twitter and Facebook shut down thousands of Russian-controlled accounts. Fourteen people from Russia’s notorious troll farm, the Internet Research Agency, were indicted.
The Justice Department charged the troll farm’s finance chief, Yelena Khusyainova, days before the Nov. 6 midterms, becoming the first person to be indicted for interfering in the U.S. elections.
Russia in turn condemned the U.S. for indicting her, saying the accusations were fabricated in order to impose further sanctions on Moscow.
Mattis spoke after Trump scrapped a scheduled meeting with Putin at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, referring to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the Azov Sea.