By MIKE LEVINE and MARK OSBORNE, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — A U.S. government intelligence report released on Friday says China is actively interfering in the 2020 election process against President Donald Trump’s campaign.
“We assess that China prefers that President Trump — whom Beijing sees as unpredictable — does not win reelection,” William Evanina, director of the United States National Counterintelligence and Security Center, wrote in a release. “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.”
The report on foreign election interference also highlights disinformation campaigns by Russia and Iran.
While China allegedly works against Trump, the report says Russia is fighting against Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“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,"” Evanina wrote. “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.”
It was just over two weeks ago that Biden said he was putting the Kremlin “on notice” over its election interference.
“If elected president, I will treat foreign interference in our election as an adversarial act that significantly affects the relationship between the United States and the interfering nation’s government,” Biden wrote as part of a lengthy statement.
The release from Evanina does not say whether Iran is working for or against any candidate, but instead that it is working against “democratic institutions.”
“We assess that Iran seeks to undermine U.S. democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections,” Evanina wrote. “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.”
“One of the best tools our election officials and the American people have to help defend against election interference is transparency on the risks to elections,” Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Christopher Krebs said in a statement. “ODNI’s statement today demonstrates this commitment to providing transparency and continuing to raise awareness among the American public about the threats to our election systems. We’ve come a long way since 2016 and we appreciate the Intelligence Community efforts to continue to downgrade and share information as broadly as possible, and we encourage them to continue to do so.”
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ranking Member Mark Warner, D-Va., thanked Evanina in a joint statement for his latest statement on election threats, and encouraged “political leaders on all sides to refrain from weaponizing intelligence matters for political gain, as this only furthers the divisive aims of our adversaries.”
“NCSC Director Evanina’s statement today builds on and provides additional context to his previous statement two weeks ago,” Rubio and Warner wrote. “We thank him for providing this additional information to the American people, and we look forward to his continued engagement, along with other members of the Intelligence Community and the Administration, with the public over the next 87 days.”
“Evanina’s statement highlights some of the serious and ongoing threats to our election from China, Russia, and Iran,” the letter continued. “Everyone — from the voting public, local officials, and members of Congress — needs to be aware of these threats. And all of us should endeavor to prevent outside actors from being able to interfere in our elections, influence our politics, and undermine confidence in our democratic institutions.”
ABC News’ Ben Siegel contributed to this report.
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