The conclusions we present here arebased on work begun in 2016, when one of our authors witnessed firsthand at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the extent to which foreign nations were attempting to use influence operations to undermine democracy. As a result, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) created the Defending Democratic Institutions (DDI) project to investigate further the scope and nature of these threats.
We began with a review of Russia’s long-term campaign to undermine liberal democracies in the West. Although its actions in Eastern Europe had been well documented for decades,8intelligence community assessments confirm that in recent years, the Kremlin has been increasingly bold in its attempts to intervene in Western European nations. Now theirefforts have moved aggressively to the United States. As lawyers, we are especially concerned about Russian efforts to undermine the U.S. justice system—an understudied, but vitally important pillar of our democracy and the foundation for our national commitment to the rule of law. We found that the judicial system, too, has become a target of the Kremlin’s broad campaign.