With headlines like these, who needs spy novels!

Revelations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election have come as a shock to many Americans.

And the plot keeps getting thicker.

Most recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from involvement in any Russian election meddling investigations. The announcement comes after reports surfaced that he met twice with the Russian ambassador before the election.

All this political drama got us wondering: How unusual is foreign election interference?  As it turns out, not unusual at all.  Russia/USSR has been tinkering with other countries’ elections for decades — and so has the U.S.

Dov Levin, a political scientist at Carnegie-Mellon University, has found over a hundred examples of U.S. and/or Russian interference in other countries’ elections from 1946 to 2000.  About 30 percent of these interventions were Russian; the other 70 percent were organized by the U.S.  In the slideshow below, we’ve put together a few of the American examples.

A note before we get started: This slideshow focuses specifically on U.S. interference in foreign elections.  So, it doesn’t include some of the more egregious instances of U.S. meddling — such as the 1953 coup against Iran Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, or the 1961 assassination of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.  We do mention the U.S.-backed coup against Salvador Allende — but in the context of U.S. interference in Chile’s elections, which preceded the coup by almost a decade.  So as you click through, bear in mind that election meddling is just one of the many ways that the U.S. has intervened in other countries’ politics.

Yes, We’ve Done It Too: A History of U.S. Meddling in Other Countries’ Elections 3 March,2017Jess Engebretson
  • JayTaber
  • Curious

    All that occurred here was that DNC and Podesta emails were released to the public. No interference. Unlike Barry’s meddling in the Israeli elections.

  • Hillary Clintub

    Define “meddling”. Is merely expressing a wish for one candidate or another to win in a foreign election considered “meddling”? Is publicly pointing out one candidate’s weaknesses (with credible evidence) considered “meddling”?

  • Really?!?!?

    We’ve also nuked another country. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respond if someone tries to nuke us.


Jess Engebretson

Jess Engebretson is a radio producer from Virginia.

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