The Slatest

State Department Has Yet to Spend a Penny of Its $120 Million to Counter Foreign Election Interference

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is pictured at a press conference at San Martin Palace, in Buenos Aires, on February 4, 2018.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is pictured at a press conference in Buenos Aires on February 4, 2018.
ALBERTO RAGGIO/Getty Images

Russia’s virtual efforts to meddle in U.S. elections are ramping up ahead of the midterm campaign. But you wouldn’t know it looking at the State Department that doesn’t appear to see it as a priority at all. The issue seems to be so far down the department’s to-do list that it has yet to spend a single dollar of the $120 million that it was allocated to deal with foreign efforts to interfere in U.S. elections, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

How unprepared is the State Department’s Global Engagement Center to deal with any efforts by Moscow to interfere in the election? Well, for one, it doesn’t have a single analyst who knows how to speak Russian.

More than a single department though, the Times notes that the failure to spend any of its budget to combat foreign interference shows just how disinterested the Trump administration appears to be on the issue. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has even expressed skepticism there is anything the department he leads can do to prevent Russian meddling. “If it’s their intention to interfere, they’re going to find ways to do that,” Tillerson said in an interview last month. “And we can take steps we can take, but this is something that once they decide they are going to do it, it’s very difficult to pre-empt it.”

After the Times began asking about the money, the State Department said it would be getting $40 million from the Pentagon. It seems Americans have caught on to this lax attitude.
A poll released by Axios on Sunday shows that a majority of Americans have little to no faith that the Trump administration can stop foreign governments from interfering in the midterms.