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Russia trying to undermine Biden in election, White House intelligence report says

David Lauter, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Russia is once again interfering in the U.S. election, trying to covertly undermine Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, according to a U.S. intelligence assessment released Friday.

Moscow's effort involves a "range of measures," according to the intelligence assessment, which was released by the White House Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Among them are the spread of claims about corruption in Ukraine, the report says. President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have seized on some of those same Ukraine-related allegations in an attempt to harm Biden's candidacy.

In addition, the assessment said "some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump's candidacy on social media and Russian television."

The report also points to interference by China and Iran.

The conclusions from the intelligence office, which is headed by a Trump appointee, represent the most detailed public description of foreign influence operations targeting this year's presidential election. It also reinforces concerns that Russia is once again trying to boost Trump, who it favored over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

"Our election should be our own," said a statement from William R. Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center Office. "Foreign efforts to influence or interfere with our elections are a direct threat to the fabric of our democracy."

U.S. intelligence officials believe China and Iran are also attempting to influence the election, both in opposition to Trump, the report said.

 

"We assess that China prefers that President Trump -- whom Beijing sees as unpredictable -- does not win reelection," the assessment said. "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."

Iran is allegedly playing a similar role. "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."

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