Russia actively works to ‘denigrate’ alleged Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, while China views President Donald Trump as ‘unpredictable’ and prefers him not to be re-elected, according to new US intelligence assessment .
The analysis, released Friday by the head of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, also concluded that Iran is working to foment division and undermine Trump ahead of the 2020 election.
“Tehran’s motivation to carry out such activities is, in part, driven by the perception that President Trump’s re-election would result in continued US pressure on Iran,” the analysis concluded, adding that Iran feared. also that the Trump administration is pushing for regime change.
Friday’s threat assessment went further than a blanket warning issued last month that America’s democratic institutions remain the target of choice for its toughest opponents.
In reporting on Russia’s efforts, the report not only identified its goal – to resume the interference effort carried out in 2016 – but also gave the campaign a name.
“Ukrainian pro-Russian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach is spreading allegations of corruption – including publishing leaked phone calls – to undermine the candidacy of former Vice President Biden and the Democratic Party,” the report said. “Some Kremlin-related actors are also looking to bolster President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.”
Derkach had leaked fragments of years-old phone conversations between Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, which sought to link then-Vice President Biden to a discredited effort to protect his son’s business relationship in the country.
In China, officials “broadened their pre-election” influence efforts to shape the political environment in the United States. [and] put pressure on the political figures whom it considers opposed to the interests of China. “
“Although China will continue to weigh the risks and benefits of aggressive action, its public rhetoric in recent months has become increasingly critical of the current administration’s response to COVID-19 , the closure of the Chinese Consulate in Houston and actions on other issues, “Analysis said.
The US analysis noted China’s harsh criticism of the administration’s actions related to Hong Kong and the president’s efforts to ban China-owned TikTok and WeChat apps.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Friday announced a new round of sanctions against Hong Kong Managing Director Carrie Lam, along with 10 other senior officials. The action is linked to Beijing’s broad national security law aimed at limiting Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The measures mark a continued deterioration in U.S. relations with Beijing in recent months, as Trump waged a months-long trade war with Beijing and accused Chinese officials of allowing the coronavirus to spread into a pandemic.
US intelligence analysis gave a warning:
“Ahead of the 2020 US election, foreign states will continue to use covert and overt measures of influence in their attempts to influence the preferences and perspectives of US voters, to change US policies, to increase discord in United States and undermine the confidence of the American people in our democratic process. They may also seek to compromise our electoral infrastructure for a variety of possible purposes, such as interfering with the voting process, stealing sensitive data, or questioning the validity of election results. “
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The report, however, determined that it would be “difficult for our opponents to interfere or manipulate the results of the vote on a large scale”.
The Trump campaign responded to the warning on Friday, saying the president did not need foreign interference.
“We don’t need or want foreign interference, and President Trump will beat Joe Biden fair and blunt,” spokesman Tim Murtaugh said. “The intelligence community’s assessment that China and Iran are trying to stop President Trump’s re-election is concerning, but clearly because he has held them accountable after years of pampering by politicians like Joe Biden . “
In a joint statement, Senate Intelligence Committee leaders said the electoral interference warnings highlighted “some of the most serious and persistent threats to our election.”
“Everyone – from the voting public, local officials and members of Congress – should be aware of these threats,” said Acting President Marco Rubio, R-Fla., And Vice President Mark Warner, D- Goes.
In recent weeks, lawmakers have said NCSC chief William Evanina, along with FBI and Homeland Security officials, held more in-depth briefings for members of Congress.
“We believe that more of the information made available in these briefings can, and at the appropriate time, be shared with the voting public,” said Rubio and Warner.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., And House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff applauded the more detailed assessment lamenting intelligence officials suggested three foreign adversaries posed equal threats .
“Unfortunately, today’s statement still treats three actors with different intent and capabilities as equal threats to our democratic elections,” Pelosi and Schiff said in a joint statement. “Members of Congress have now been made aware of the specific threats to the 2020 election, and we have made it clear with the intelligence community that the American people must be provided with specific information that would allow voters to assess for themselves. the respective threats posed by these foreign actors, and distinguish the different and unequal objectives, actions and capacities of these actors. “
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Contributor: Courtney Subramanian