We may never uncover full extent of Russian influence in 2016 election: U.S. senator
One of the first U.S. lawmakers to call for an investigation into Russian interference during last year’s presidential election says the problem was even worse than she ever expected.
Jeanne Shaheen, a Democratic senator from New Hampshire, was in Nova Scotia this weekend for the Halifax International Security Forum. She spoke with The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos about the results of recent probes into Russian meddling and how they have been received by the White House.
“I’m not sure that we’ll ever know the extent to which they influenced the outcome of the election,” Shaheen said.
“The interference in our elections was much more widespread than even we believed … It’s disturbing, and it’s the reason why we need to take action, so that they understand that they’re going to be held accountable for what they’ve done.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has said he believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin is telling the truth when he claims not to have meddled in the American vote through targeting hacking and the spread of misinformation that favoured Trump’s campaign.
WATCH: Trump says he trusts Putin’s denials of election meddling
Shaheen isn’t at all convinced.
“I don’t believe Vladimir Putin, and you would have to be naïve to believe that he’s going to admit to what they’ve done,” she said, adding that 17 U.S. intelligence agencies have all concluded that Russia interfered.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is currently examining if and how the Trump campaign may have been connected to those efforts in Moscow.
Shaheen, meanwhile, said the biggest priority now should be to try and determine how to protect the integrity of future elections, both in the U.S. and other nations. There is legislation making its way through the U.S. Congress now, she explained, that would require people (or governments) financing online ads on social media to disclose their identities, and for government-funded websites like Russia’s Sputnik to register in the United States.
“The challenge is with the fake-news arena, and how do we address the disinformation,” Shaheen acknowledged.
“In a free society where we believe in freedom of speech, that’s more challenging and it’s something that I think we need to continue to work on.”
– Watch the full interview with U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen above.