Shaheen on Senate Floor: Let’s give the Department of Justice the tools it needs to investigate and expose Russian Propaganda

April 04, 2017

**SHAHEEN: “The American people have a right to know if a Russian-government entity is exploiting our First Amendment freedoms to harm our country” ** 

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(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor today to discuss her bipartisan legislation to strengthen compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and give the Department of Justice new and necessary authority to compel foreign organizations to produce documentation to confirm funding sources and foreign connections. The Department of Justice would have the authority it needs to investigate RT America, the U.S. branch of RT News, following efforts by RT News to spread disinformation prior to the November election. In her remarks, Shaheen argued that repeated Russian propaganda efforts to undermine public faith in democratic institutions requires a strong response. “The American people have a right to know if a Russian-government entity is exploiting our First Amendment freedoms to harm our country,” said Shaheen. “And it is galling that RT News has publicly boasted that it can dodge our laws by claiming to be financed by a nonprofit organization, and not the Russian government.”

During her remarks, Shaheen pointed to specific Russian propaganda efforts aimed at influencing U.S. and European public opinion. “During our presidential campaign in 2016, dozens of narratives and false new stories originated in Russia – for instance, the baseless story that the Obama administration launched a coup against the Turkish government from a U.S. airbase in that country… Researchers have traced these and other stories to a common source: the Kremlin’s sophisticated, multi-faceted propaganda empire, which reaches some 600 million people across 130 countries and in 30 languages… A prime objective of this propaganda barrage is to influence U.S. and European public opinion, create confusion, and shape election outcomes.” 

Shaheen urged her Senate colleagues “to support the Foreign Agents Registration Modernization and Enforcement Act.  Let’s give the Department of Justice the tools it needs to investigate and expose RT America.”

Senator Shaheen’s bill has unnerved the Kremlin, prompting a quick defense from spokesman Dmitry Peskov and Russia’s State Duma, which has approved measures to launch an investigation into U.S. media organizations that operate in Russia. In addition to introducing this legislation, Shaheen has called for a nonpartisan independent investigation of Russia’s intervention in the U.S. presidential election and is part of a bipartisan group of Senators sponsoring legislation to impose tougher, comprehensive sanctions on Russia.