Trump pledges to counteract election meddling ahead of 2018 midterms

President Trump said this week he was not concerned about potential interference in the 2018 midterm elections because the U.S. would counteract it.

“Whatever they do, we’ll counteract it very strongly,” Trump said, according to multiple American media reports.

Some U.S. intelligence leaders believe that thus far the country has not reacted strongly enough to known Russian counterintelligence activities aimed at disrupted American elections, largely through disinformation campaigns.

The president said his administration was studying the issue and would have strong recommendations to make in the coming weeks and months.

“You have to be very vigilant,” Trump said. “And one of the things we’re learning it is always good — it’s old-fashioned — but it’s always good to have a paper backup system of voting. It’s called paper. Not highly complex computers. Paper. A lot of states are going to a paper backup.”

Outgoing NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers told Congress during testimony last week that the U.S. response to Russian interference thus far has been inadequate.

“I believe that President (Vladimir) Putin has clearly come to the conclusion that there’s little price to pay and that therefore, ’I can continue this activity,’” Rogers said. “Clearly what we have done hasn’t been enough.” [source]

Analysis: It’s in the president’s best interests to ensure that going forward American elections are as protected as possible, given that a sizeable plurality of the country, at least, believes his election victory was tainted by Russian influence. The intelligence agency heads — under him and his predecessor — have repeatedly testified that no votes were changed and that voting system integrity remains high. But that hasn’t convinced many Americans. Confidence in the president and our electoral processes would be much higher if the Trump administration really does put a great deal of effort into this, though even so, no matter what he does, some Americans will never be convinced.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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