The State Department has not yet spent any of the $120 million that was to be allocated toward combatting foreign interference in elections, the New York Times reported Sunday.
Toward the end of former President Barak Obama’s administration, Congress voted to direct the Pentagon to give the State Department $60 million for combatting Russian and Chinese “anti-democratic propaganda,” according to the Times. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took nearly seven months to decide what to do with the funding and the Pentagon ultimately decided to keep it. The Department had another $60 million available for the next fiscal year, but decided last week to only take $40 million, the Times reported.
That money will reportedly be transferred to the State Department and its Global Engagement Center in April, which will counter Russian meddling efforts with anti-propaganda counter-attacks. Currently, the Global Engagement Center doesn’t have someone who speaks Russian on the team and it is primarily focused on countering jihadist and other forms of extreme propaganda, according to the Times.
The news of the unspent millions comes as National Security Agency director Adm. Mike Rogers told the Senate armed services committee last week that President Donald Trump has not yet directed his department to work to thwart Russian cyber threats to the 2018 election.