Saturday, 26 Sep 2020

U.S. counterspy chief warns Russia, China, Iran are trying to meddle in 2020 election

WASHINGTON, Aug 7 (Reuters) – The top U.S. counterintelligence official on Friday warned that Russia, China and Iran will all try to interfere in the 2020 presidential election, with Russia already trying to undercut presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

In an unusual public statement, William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said those countries were using online disinformation and other means to try to influence voters, stir up disorder and undermine American voters’ confidence in the democratic process.

Foreign adversaries also may try to interfere with U.S. election systems by trying to sabotage the voting process, stealing election data, or calling into question the validity of election results.

“It would be difficult for our adversaries to interfere with or manipulate voting results at scale,” Evanina insisted.

Multiple reviews by U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia acted to boost now-President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and undercut his rival Hillary Clinton’s chances in that election. Trump has long bristled at that finding, which Russia denies.

Evania warned on Friday that Russia is already going after former Vice President Biden and what it regards as an anti-Russia U.S. “establishment.”

Evanina said Andriy Derkach, a pro-Russia Ukrainian politician, has been “spreading claims about corruption – including through publicized leaked phone calls” to undermine Biden’s campaign and the Democratic Party. Trump supporters in the U.S. Senate have launched investigations questioning Biden’s son Hunter’s involvement in alleged business activities in Ukraine.

Evanina said “Kremlin-linked actors” also are trying to “boost President Trump’s candidacy via social media and Russian television.”

He said his agency assessed that China would prefer that Trump not win re-election, because Beijing regards him as too unpredictable.

25 PHOTOSDonald Trump kicks off his 2020 re-election campaign in FloridaSee GalleryDonald Trump kicks off his 2020 re-election campaign in FloridaPresident Donald Trump reacts to the crowd after speaking during his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump speaks during his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump speaks during his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump arrives to speak at his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump, smiles as press secretary Sarah Sanders speaks to supporters at a rally where Trump formally announced his 2020 re-election bid Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)Vice President Mike Pence speaks to supporters at a rally where President Donald Trump formally announced his 2020 re-election bid Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)Vice President Mike Pence, left, and wife Karen Pence greet supporters at a rally where President Donald Trump formally announced his 2020 re-election bid Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet supporters after formally announcing his 2020 re-election bid Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)President Donald Trump speaks to supporters as he formally announced his 2020 re-election bid Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)President Donald Trump greets supporters after his speech where he formally announced his 2020 re-election bid Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)President Donald Trump, center, speaks to supporters where he formally announced his 2020 re-election bid Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)President Donald Trump pauses as he speaks during his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump supporters shake their fists at the media as Trump formally announced his 2020 re-election bid Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)From left, Tiffany Trump, Lara Trump and Eric Trump, senior adviser Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and Kimberly Guilfoyle and Donald Trump Jr., watch as President Donald Trump speaks at his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump speaks during his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump with first lady Melania Trump arrives to speak at his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Senior adviser Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, watch as President Donald Trump speaks at his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump speaks during his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump speaks during his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump pauses as he speaks during his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump speaks during his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer as he arrives to speak at his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump shakes hands with supporters after arriving at Miami International Airport in Miami, following his re-election kickoff rally in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)First lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump greet supporters at a rally to formally announce his 2020 re-election bid Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)Up Next

See Gallery

He said China has been expanding efforts to influence U.S. politics ahead of the November election to try to shape U.S. policy, exert pressure on U.S. politicians it regards as anti-China, and deflect criticism of China.

Evanina said Iran is likely to use online tactics such as spreading disinformation to discredit U.S. institutions and President Trump and to stir up U.S. voters’ discontent.

The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Mark Warner, thanked Evanina for his warning in a statement and added that all Americans “should endeavor to prevent outside actors from being able to interfere in our elections, influence our politics, and undermine confidence in our democratic institutions.”

This will be an unusual year for U.S. voters. The coronavirus pandemic is expected to result in many more voters than usual casting ballots by mail, which could mean it will take longer to learn who won.

Trump has been attacking the idea of voting by mail, saying despite research to the contrary that it is likely to result in fraud. (Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Scott Malone and David Gregorio)

Source: Read Full Article