Credo Action

Tell Rex Tillerson: Stop allowing Russia to meddle in U.S. elections

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Petition to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:

"Stop sabotaging the State Department Global Engagement Center’s efforts to combat Russian meddling in American elections. Grant the Center the funding Congress allocated and ensure it has the staffing and leadership it needs to be successful."

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    Tell Rex Tillerson: Stop allowing Russia to meddle in U.S. elections

    Top American intelligence officials have warned that Russia is already meddling in the upcoming midterm congressional elections.1 But the Trump administration is refusing to take steps to prevent it.

    Russia used propaganda, armies of social media “bots,” spokespeople and on-the-ground organizers to disrupt the 2016 elections. Similar nefarious efforts to disrupt the rapidly approaching midterm elections are already in the works, according to the heads of American intelligence agencies. But despite the stark warning, Donald Trump continues to mock Russian interference in U.S. elections.2

    His crony at the State Department, Rex Tillerson, has gone one step further. Tillerson has denied funding to a special unit designed to fight ISIS and Russian propaganda, according to recent reports.3 We need to ramp up public pressure on Tillerson to stop sabotaging anti-propaganda efforts and giving Russia a free pass to meddle in our elections.

    Tell Rex Tillerson: Stop allowing Russia to meddle in U.S. elections.

    Congress granted the State Department’s Global Engagement Center $120 million to fight Russian propaganda. But the center has yet to see a dime of that money. Tillerson and his small group of political operatives nixed the funding. What’s more, his attacks on American diplomacy through hiring and promotion freezes have left the Center without any staffers who speak Russian. Tillerson’s sabotage is even hurting the Center’s long-standing efforts to combat ISIS propaganda.4

    Worst of all, Tillerson’s team may be refusing to fund the Center in order to appease Russia:5

    At one point during the discussions [about funding the Center], Tillerson aide R.C. Hammond suggested the money is unwelcome because any extra funding for programs to counter Russian media influence would anger Moscow, according to a former senior State Department official.

    The State Department already missed the deadline to spend the first $60 million. But it is not too late for Tillerson and his cronies to fast-track the funding for the Global Engagement Center, remove hiring freezes and give the unit the staffing and leadership it needs to be successful.6 A foreign power is actively working to interfere in our elections, and the State Department cannot sit idly by and allow it to happen.

    Even Republican senators have criticized the Trump team for letting Russia meddle in our elections unimpeded, and a former Bush administration under secretary for public diplomacy told The New York Times, “They’ve got the vehicle to do this work in the Center. What they don’t have is a secretary of state or a president who’s interested in doing this work.”7,8 With bipartisan condemnation growing, we have an opportunity to shame Trump, Tillerson and the State Department or force them to act.

    Tell Rex Tillerson: Stop allowing Russia to meddle in U.S. elections.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    References:

    1. Matthew Rosenberg, Charlie Savage and Michael Wines, “Russia Sees Midterm Elections as Chance to Sow Fresh Discord, Intelligence Chiefs Warn,” The New York Times, Feb. 13, 2018.
    2. Ibid.
    3. Gardiner Harris, “State Dept. Was Granted $120 Million to Fight Russian Meddling. It Has Spent $0.” The New York Times, March 4, 2018.
    4. Ibid.
    5. Nahal Toosi, “Tillerson spurns $80 million to counter ISIS, Russian propaganda,” POLITICO, Aug. 2, 2017.
    6. Harris, “State Dept. Was Granted $120 Million to Fight Russian Meddling. It Has Spent $0.
    7. Toosi, “Tillerson spurns $80 million to counter ISIS, Russian propaganda.
    8. Harris, “State Dept. Was Granted $120 Million to Fight Russian Meddling. It Has Spent $0.