Report: Senate Dems investigating Russian meddling in European elections

Report: Senate Dems investigating Russian meddling in European elections
© Keren Carrion

Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have for months been investigating Russia's efforts to interfere in the affairs of Eastern European countries, the Daily Beast reported Wednesday.

The probe began last spring as an effort to understand how the Kremlin uses propaganda and voter suppression techniques to assert its interests and influence abroad. It is being led by Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSenate confirms two Treasury nominees over Democratic objections Congress passes bill to begin scenic byways renaissance GOP lawmaker: 'Dangerous' abuse of Interpol by Russia, China, Venezuela MORE (Md.), the top Democrat on the panel.

The Republicans on the committee are not involved in the investigation, and it's not clear why. Micah Johnson, a spokeswoman for the committee's chairman, Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.), told the Daily Beast that Corker was aware of the investigation, but that the report had not been shared with him.

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The report, being developed by the committee Democrats, details Russian President Vladimir Putin's efforts to keep “the Russian public supportive of wars abroad, while distracted from the regime’s criminality and corruption at home, and how, over the past decade-plus, it has adapted that toolkit and taken it global," Sean Bartlett, a Democratic spokesman for the committee, told the Daily Beast.

Bartlett said it also reveals how the operations “emanate out of Russia in concentric geographic circles: they began in Russia, expanded to its periphery and former satellites, and then into the rest of Europe and eventually, the United States.”

It is not clear when the report will be publicly released. 

Multiple congressional committees are investigating Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and a special counsel is conducting a criminal probe into the matter.

But the report in the works by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democrats does not focus on the U.S. election, setting its sights instead on broader meddling by Russia in Europe, according to the Daily Beast.