After nearly two years of calling Russian election interference a hoax and its investigation a witch hunt, President Donald Trump on Friday presided over the first National Security Council meeting devoted to defending American democracy from foreign manipulation. “The President has made it clear that his administration will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections from any nation state or other malicious actors,” the White House said in a statement afterward. But current and former officials tell NBC News that 19 months into his presidency, there is no coherent Trump administration strategy to combat foreign election interference — and no single person or agency in charge.
In the statement, the White House took issue with that, saying a strategy was put in motion when Trump took office. No such strategy has been made public — or even mentioned before.
After terrorists struck on 9/11, the U.S. government passed laws, boosted funding, and reorganized itself with the goal of making sure such an attack could never happen again. But no wholesale changes have taken place in the nearly two years since Russia sought to manipulate the 2016 election, cyber aggression that some lawmakers have called an act of war.