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He may have meant it as a “joke,” but Russian President Vladimir Putin’s one-liner about interfering in the 2020 presidential election is falling flat on this side of the Atlantic.
Putin was asked at a panel during Russian Energy Week about concerns the country might once again try to influence voters. His reply? “I’ll tell you a secret: Yes, we’ll definitely do it. Just don’t tell anyone.”
He quickly followed that up with by saying “You know, we have enough of our own problems. We are engaged in resolving internal problems and are primarily focused on this.”
It’s the sort of thing that Putin can point to as a light-hearted moment, but the FBI probably isn’t laughing. In June, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Russia was “absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections”. Former special counsel Robert Mueller sounded similar warnings in his testimony before Congress.
Russia, in 2016, used social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Google to influence U.S. politics, raising questions about how the tech giants were unable to prevent the spread of misinformation and propaganda. Even in the midterms, there were reports revealing Facebook discovered and eliminated several accounts spreading misinformation across its platforms ahead of the elections.
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