Asked Tuesday about the possibility of Russian meddling in the 2018 midterm elections, President Donald Trump had a ready answer: Don't you worry 'bout a thing.
"We'll counteract whatever they do," Trump said of Russia.
How, you ask? Paper.
"One of the things we're learning is, it's always good -- it's old-fashioned, but it's always good -- to have a paper back-up system of voting," Trump said. "It's called paper. Not highly complex computers. Paper."
OK, so, a few things.
- What Trump seems to be addressing is the possibility of Russians seeking to hack into election voting systems and change results. Keeping paper records will solve that problem! The problem, of course, is that the challenge posed to our elections from foreign actors is not solely in trying to change ballots. Broad persuasion campaigns using social media and the purposeful promulgation of fake news are the future of election meddling. Not paper ballots. (Want to be terrified? Read this on the "Infocalypse" by BuzzFeed's Charlie Warzel.)-
- The State Department has been allocated tens of millions of dollars by Congress to deal with the coming threat to US elections by Russia and other foreign countries. It has spent a total of $0 of that money.
- As of late last month, US Cyber Command chief Adm. Mike Rogers told Congress that President Trump, via the Defense Department, had not authorized him to deal with the cyber threat posed by Russia. "It has not changed the calculus or the behavior on behalf of the Russians," Rogers said. "They have not paid a price that is sufficient to change their behavior."
The Point: It's one thing for Trump to say that the United States will "counteract" whatever Russia tries to do to interfere in the 2018 election. It's another to actually counteract it.- And there's little evidence Trump's administration is taking concrete steps to do that.