GOP senator on Russian interference: People feel like we're in the 'this is fine' meme

GOP senator on Russian interference: People feel like we're in the 'this is fine' meme
© Greg Nash

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrHoekstra emerges as favorite for top intelligence post Trump casts uncertainty over top intelligence role Trump withdraws Ratcliffe as Intelligence pick MORE (R-N.C.) on Wednesday said there's a sense that Americans are in the "this is fine" meme — which depicts a blithely indifferent cartoon dog sitting in a burning room — regarding Russia's election inference.

"Some feel that we as a society are sitting in a burning room calmly drinking a cup of coffee, telling ourselves, 'this is fine,'" said Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"That’s not fine and that’s not the case," he continued during a statement for a committee hearing about foreign influence on social media platforms. "We should no longer be talking about 'if' the Russians attempted to interfere with American society."

"They’ve been doing it since the days of the Soviet Union and they’re still doing it today," he added. 

Social media experts at the hearing testified about Moscow's attempts to meddle in U.S. elections through platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. They raised concerns that foreign governments are continuing to spread disinformation and gain influence online as the U.S. approaches the 2018 midterm elections.  

Facebook on Tuesday said it removed 32 pages and accounts across Facebook and Instagram that were involved in a coordinated disinformation campaign after discovering them last week. Though the company has not been able to identify their origin yet, they have said it is similar to strategies used by Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 election. 

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Democrats since the announcement have attributed the fake Facebook accounts to Russia. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE has repeatedly cast doubt on Kremlin interference in U.S. elections. At a widely  denounced press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland last month, Trump appeared to cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Moscow conspired to interfere in the presidential election. 

“I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be [Russia],” Trump said. “So, I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was strong and powerful in his denial today.”

Trump later recanted by insisting he knows the Kremlin interfered, but repeated claims that "other parties" were likely involved as well.