The U.S. government could have done more to prevent Russian trolls from interfering in the 2016 election, a former Obama administration official told CNN.
Brett Bruen, who was the White House's director of global engagement from 2013 to 2015, said that he warned the National Security Council in 2014 of the likelihood of attacks from Russian trolls after a task force he was on helped push back against similar tactics Moscow used to try and interfere in Ukraine's 2014 election.
Bruen told CNN he pleaded to keep the task force up and running to prevent future Russian attempts at such interference
"I was sitting in the White House telling the State Department, for the love of God, keep this up. We have a new threat that we have recognized, that we have been successful in many respects in pushing back against. This is not the moment for us to stand down."
He said he pushed for a command center that would track and counter Russian misinformation, insisting that these types of attempts at interference in Western elections from Moscow "is something that's going to march across Western Europe. This is something that's going to march over to our shores, and we need to be ready."
However, he said the State Department rejected the idea and, as a consequence, "During the 2016 elections [the Russians] came at us with exactly the same kinds of techniques they were using back in Ukraine."
It is not clear why the State Department rejected the idea. CNN reported that numerous officials it spoke with gave various reasons, such as bureaucratic problems or that the State Department was focused instead on diplomacy with Russia.
Victoria Nuland, who was then the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, told CNN that there were not enough funds available to carry out his proposals.
Other officials dispute Bruen's contention and insist that neither he nor anyone else accurately assessed the potential damage to a future American election.
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