The U.S. saw a continued and accelerated decline in its political rights over the past year under the Trump administration, according to a new report released Tuesday by the nonpartisan democracy watchdog Freedom House.
Freedom House said the U.S.’s political rights rating had been downgraded by one rank “due to growing evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, violations of basic ethical standards by the new administration, and a reduction in government transparency.”
The report found that Russian interference in the 2016 election “did alter the campaign environment and the content of the political debate, and harmed public confidence in the integrity of the election process.”
Freedom House said in the report that President Trump’s deviation from established norms of ethics and transparency and his attacks on the free press and independent judiciary could weaken U.S. democratic institutions in the long term.
The report also cites “partisan manipulation of the electoral process, bias and dysfunction in the criminal justice system, and growing disparities in wealth, economic opportunity, and political influence.”
“Fewer than 25,000 individuals reportedly supplied some 40 percent of all contributions in 2016, and a far smaller number of extremely wealthy and prolific donors are especially sought after by candidates, raising concerns about undue influence,” the report said.
The Hill added:
The organization also raised concerns over state laws that require voters to present forms of identification and roll back early voting, saying the measures “could disproportionately harm minority voters.”
Fourteen states had new restrictive voting laws in place during the 2016 presidential election.
The report came as Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday delivered a speech comparing Trump to former Soviet Union leader Josef Stalin.
“2017 was a year which saw the truth — objective, empirical, evidence-based truth —more battered and abused than any other time in the history of our country, at the hands of the most powerful figure in our government,” Flake said in his prepared remarks.