Piece by piece, we continue to learn about Russia’s assault on the 2016 election: cyberattacks on voting systems in 39 states; troll farms that pushed divisive political messages to millions of viewers on social media; and likely involvement in the leaking of information to influence the outcome of the election, potentially including the information shared directly with Donald Trump Jr. by WikiLeaks. Just this week, we’ve learned that the FBI is now looking into dozens of money transfers sent by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to its embassies across the globe, totaling more than $380,000 and bearing the subject line “to finance election campaign of 2016.”
We don’t know for what purpose the funds were spent – innocent or otherwise. Indeed, there is a chance this money went toward administering Russia’s 2016 parliamentary elections. But while we await the outcome of the investigation, we should be taking a hard look at all of the avenues of Russian influence in our democracy. One avenue that has gone relatively unexplored is the money flowing directly to candidates, including the President.The above excerpt was originally published in Just Security.