On Tuesday, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, A. Wess Mitchell, said that Russia’s targeting of the U.S. elections are meant to sow discord within the United States rather than helping one party over another.
Mitchell said, “Putin’s thesis is that the American constitution is an experiment that will fail if it is challenged from the right way within.”
“Putin wants to break apart the American republic not by influencing an election or two, but by systematically inflaming the fault lines within our society,” he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Mitchell gave specifics citing that the Russians are financially supporting those on the far-left and the far-right “that stood for really heinous and hideous causes.”
The goal, he said, is to “pit preexisting political camps against one other.”
Mitchell pointed out that the threat from Russia has moved beyond a “military one.” He said, “Our strategy is animated by the realization that the threat from Russia has evolved beyond being simply an external or military one; it includes unprecedentedly brazen influence operations orchestrated by the Kremlin on the soil of our allies and even here at home in the United States.”
He then doubled down on his statement that the Russian attempts to sow discord isn’t about left or right politics.
He said, “They are not about right or left, or American political philosophy. The threat from Russian influence operations existed long before our 2016 presidential election and will continue long after this election cycle, or the next, or the next.”
Additionally, the Washington Free Beacon reports that he said that the State Department is using an interagency-backed Global Engagement Center to combat Russian influences.
During his testimony Sen. Chris Murphy asked Mitchell if Trump was helping the Russians by claiming that the media was the “enemy of the people.”
Mitchell defended the president saying, “What the president has said is not that the free press is ‘an enemy of the people.’ He said that fake news is the enemy of the people.”
He continued, “I think today’s media, we would all agree, is unprecedentedly polemical. And the political debate in this country has gone beyond the pale of what we’ve seen on the part of the media in a very long time. That’s part of a healthy democracy.”
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