President Donald Trump aided Moscow’s disinformation campaign during the 2016 U.S. election by spreading false information originating from Russian state-sponsored news outlets and internet bots, a cybersecurity expert testified before Congress on Thursday.
“Part of the reason active measures have worked in this U.S. election is because the commander in chief has used Russian active measures, at times, against his opponents,” Clint Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told members of the Senate intelligence committee during the panel’s first public hearing on Russian election interference since Trump’s inauguration in January.
The charge from Watts, a former FBI Special Agent who tracks Russian influence operations, came in response to a question from Republican Sen. James Lankford (Okla.), who asked why Russian President Vladimir Putin believed he could get away with interfering in last year’s U.S. elections.
“They parrot the same lines,” Watts responded, referring to Trump and Moscow. “[Trump] denies the intel from the United States about Russia. He claimed that the election could be rigged. That was the No. 1 theme pushed by RT, Sputnik news,” Watts continued. “He’s made claims of voter fraud, that President Obama is not a citizen, that … Congressman Cruz is not a citizen.”