U.S. Intelligence Releases Updated Assessment of Foreign Interference in 2020 Elections
Are you concerned about foreign interference in the 2020 elections?
by Causes | 8.7.20
What’s the story?
- National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) Director William Evanina on Friday released a statement updating the American public about foreign efforts to interfere in the 2020 election and the intentions & activities of those adversaries.
- Evanina’s statement explained that the intelligence community (IC) will continue to provide updates with information about foreign threats to the election in addition to its other ongoing efforts to ensure the security of the election:
“Many foreign actors have a preference for who wins the elections, which they express through a range of overt and private statements; covert influence efforts are rarer. We are primarily concerned about the ongoing and potential activity by China, Russia, and Iran.”
“We assess that China prefers that President Trump ― whom Beijing sees as unpredictable ― does not win reelection. China has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and deflect and counter criticism of China. 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. For example, it has harshly criticized the Administration’s statements and actions on Hong Kong, TikTok, the legal status of the South China Sea, and China’s efforts to dominate the 5G market. Beijing recognizes that all of these efforts might affect the presidential race.”
“We assess that Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia “establishment.” This is consistent with Moscow’s public criticism of him when he was Vice President for his role in the Obama Administration’s policies on Ukraine and its support for the anti-Putin opposition inside Russia. 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. Some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.”
“We assess that Iran seeks to undermine U.S. democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections. Iran’s efforts along these lines probably will focus on on-line influence, such as spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-U.S. content. 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.”
What election influence efforts are underway?
- Evanina’s statement explained:
“Ahead of the 2020 elections, foreign states will continue to use covert and overt influence measures in their attempts to sway U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, shift U.S. policies, increase discord in the United States, and undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process. 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. However, it would be difficult for our adversaries to interfere with or manipulate voting results at scale.
- The statement added:
“Aside from sharing information, let me assure you that the IC is also doing everything in its power to combat both cyber and influence efforts targeting our electoral process and continues to support DHS and FBI in their critical roles safeguarding the election… Our election should be our own. Foreign efforts to interfere with our elections are a direct threat to the fabric of our democracy.”
— Eric Revell
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