There's a 'huge' threat of Russia meddling in US midterm elections, former Democratic aide says

  • The threat of Russia meddling in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections is "huge," according to a partner at the law firm, Eversheds Sutherland.
  • Michael Bahar, a former Democratic aide, said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin will continue to disrupt U.S. democratic institutions through manipulating flaws in cyberspace.

The threat of Russia meddling in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections is "huge," according to a partner at the law firm Eversheds Sutherland.

In fact, the ongoing investigations into Russia's 2016 meddling are a recognition of that threat, Michael Bahar, a former Democratic staff director for the House Intelligence Committee, told CNBC on Thursday.

Still, Russian President Vladimir Putin will continue to disrupt U.S.democratic institutions through manipulating the flaws in cyberspace, Bahar predicted.

"Look, Putin is the great disruptor. That's the game he is playing, and he's been meeting with quite a lot of success," Bahar said. "And he is going to continue to do that, because it has been effective and he has got many means to do that, one of which, of course, is perpetration of click troll and all that manipulation of social media to really exploit divisions that exist in democracies."

"I think that's the real point of the congressional intelligence investigations, because there's another investigation ongoing — Bob Mueller's investigations — and that's really looking to determine what happened, relative to individuals," Bahar also told CNBC.

Unlike special counsel Robert Mueller's investigations into whether the Donald Trump campaign colluded with Russia, the congressional intelligence investigations serve to prevent foreign meddling from occurring in the future.

"But the congressional intelligence investigations are about education," Bahar explained. "They explain to the American people and to the world, this is what happened, why it happened, how it happened — so that it never happens again."

US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the APEC leaders' summit on November 11, 2017.
Mikhail Klimentyev | AFP | Getty Images
US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the APEC leaders' summit on November 11, 2017.

The former aide said, however, that Trump is on the right track to help counter the cybersecurity threat.

"I think that was an important point that came out of the State of the Union address by President Trump. He did, to his credit, call for greater unity," Bahar said, adding that, although Trump has not provided full solutions, "in one sense he is absolutely right: The only way to really avoid what happened in 2016 ... is that we do act more united."

The Eversheds Sutherland partner also said he felt the Democrats and the Republicans would come together to find a solution.

"I think there really is a growing sentiment on both sides of the aisle in the Congress [about] how serious the cybersecurity concerns are, especially now that we are entering a new era of great power politics."