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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse speaks at a hearing on Russian and the 2016 election. Photo: Samuel Corum / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Russia's success in waging its disinformation campaign during the 2016 presidential election stemmed largely from a web of government bureaucracy that placed too much confidence in American standing and institutions, according to The Washington Post.

Why it matters: Russia's success in influencing the 2016 election came as government officials couldn't agree on a legal, satisfactory course of action or counterattack — and, for the most part, they still haven't. That leaves the critical 2018 midterms and 2020 presidential election similarly open to foreign targeting and disruption.

If you read only one paragraph: "U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies saw some warning signs of Russian meddling in Europe and later in the United States but never fully grasped the breadth of the Kremlin's ambitions. Top U.S. policymakers didn't appreciate the dangers, then scrambled to draw up options to fight back. In the end, big plans died of internal disagreement, a fear of making matters worse or a misguided belief in the resilience of American society and its democratic institutions."

The big trends from WaPo's report:

  • Everything stems from the end of the Cold War, when American officials believed that Russia would be a friend going forward. And when relations later foundered, Russia was simply dismissed as a "third-rate regional power."
  • European nations had long warned of the Russian disinformation threat but were largely ignored. European representatives reacted with bemusement to a presentation by American officials on Russian disinformation at NATO headquarters shortly before Trump's inauguration.
  • It's not about supporting President Trump. Instead, Russia's goal is all about sowing discord in American society in order to distract the United States from reacting to Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions.

Go deeper

Biden says presidency "will be determined" by outcome of spending plans

President Biden walks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after addressing the House Democratic caucus on Thursday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden told the House Democratic caucus Thursday "my presidency will be determined" by the votes he wants in the next week on his $1.75 trillion social safety net expansion and $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

Driving the news: Biden made the comment, according to a source in the room, as he tried to rally support for the $1.75 trillion package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acted immediately, calling for a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill later in the day.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
49 mins ago - Energy & Environment

China declines to speed emissions cuts in new UN pledge

A view of the skyscrapers in the haze in Shanghai, China, in December 2020. Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Chinese leaders are sticking with a prior target to bring the country's carbon emissions to a peak before 2030, according to documents filed with the United Nations Thursday under the Paris climate agreement.

Why it matters: The new documents come just days ahead of the UN climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow. China is by far the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, and its emissions path is key to whether the temperature-limiting goals of the Paris agreement can remain within reach.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden lays out $1.75 trillion "framework" before Europe departure

President Biden in Kearny, N.J., on Oct. 25. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

President Biden announced Thursday a "framework" for $1.75 trillion in social program and climate change spending after failing in prior efforts to win over his fellow Democrats on a much broader and costlier package.

Why it matters: Biden is gambling that by proclaiming the broad contours of the proposal, which he immediately began selling in a meeting with House Democrats before jetting off to Europe, progressives will vote for his $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan if and when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brings it to the floor.