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Intel shows Russia Trying to 'Denigrate' Biden, China Doesn't Want a Trump Win

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Intel shows Russia Trying to 'Denigrate' Biden, China Doesn't Want a Trump Win

2020-08-09 15:11:03

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Joe Biden (Image source: Screenshot)

 

After the FBI and former special counsel Robert Mueller investigations into the Russian interference in the 2016 election, it's not that surprising that Russian President Vladimir Putin would be interfering again. In fact, intelligence shows Russia is trying to "denigrate" presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden this time while China would like to prevent a Donald Trump win.

The director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, William Evanina, said that there are actually three foreign threats to the presidential race: Russia, China, and Iran. He warned that they are trying to "sway voters' preferences and perspectives," sow discord, and "undermine the American people's confidence in our democratic process."

"Many foreign actors have a preference for who wins the election, which they express through a range of overt private statements; covert influence efforts are rarer. We are primarily concerned about the ongoing and potential activity by China, Russia, and Iran," explained Evanina in a statement.

It's not too surprising that China does not want Trump to win another four years after he's made it his goal to be seen as being tough on China, starting with a trade war of his creation and leading up to blaming China for the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, there are his actions toward Hong Kong and talks of banning the social media app TikTok. Evanina says China sees Trump as "unpredictable."

"Although China will continue to weigh the risks and benefits of aggressive action, its public rhetoric over the past few months has grown increasingly critical of the current administration's COVID-19 response, closure of China's Houston Consulate, and actions on other issues," said Evanina. "Beijing recognizes that all of these efforts might affect the presidential race."

However, Russia is going up against Biden along with others it believes are anti-Russia "establishment." Evanina further explained that this goes along with what Russia felt for the former vice president during the Obama administration, especially his stance to advance "policies on Ukraine and its support for the anti-Putin opposition inside Russia."

Evanina expressed that "some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump's candidacy on social media and Russian television."

"For example, pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach is spreading claims about corruption — including through publicizing leaked phone calls — to undermine former Vice President Biden's candidacy and the Democratic Party," he continued.

The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) — responded to Evanina's statement by saying they "encourage political leaders on all sides to refrain from weaponizing intelligence matters for political gain." They believe it would only further "the divisive aims of our adversaries."

The intelligence community previously found that Russia had tried to interfere in the 2020 presidential contest, using cyberattacks and online disinformation campaigns. They also found that Russia was trying to hurt Trump's Democratic opponent, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Additionally, Iran is also seeking to influence the election in some way. Evananina warned that Tehran is trying to undermine Trump and U.S. institutions while also trying to divide the country before the election. Iran will likely point its efforts to online influence campaigns.

"Tehran's motivation to conduct such activities is, in part, driven by a perception that President Trump's reelection would result in a continuation of U.S. pressure on Iran in an effort to foment regime change," said Evanina.

He explained he is sharing this information as part of a commitment made last month to give the public an unclassified overview of elections threats.

"They may also seek to compromise our election infrastructure for a range of possible purposes, such as interfering with the voting process, stealing sensitive data, or calling into question the validity of the election results," he added.

Despite the attempts of these distant nations, Evanina said it will "be difficult for our adversaries to interfere with or manipulate voting results at scale."

"Aside from sharing information, let me assure you that the IC [intelligence community] is also doing everything in its power to combat both cyber and influence efforts targeting our electoral process and continues to support [the Department of Homeland Security] and FBI in their critical roles safeguarding the election," Evanina asserted. The center he runs is part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. 

He concluded by stating, "We are all in this together as Americans. Our election should be our own. Foreign efforts to influence or interfere with our elections are a direct threat to the fabric of our democracy."

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