Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized influencing operations to assist Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election in November last year, according to a declassified intelligence report released Tuesday.
The report found extensive maneuvering by the Kremlin and Iran to shape the outcome of the contest, but in the end there is no evidence that any foreign actor has changed votes or in any way altered the electoral process.
2020 ELECTIONS UNDER FOREIGN THREATS
The report published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence represents the most detailed assessment of the set of foreign threats to the 2020 elections.
That set included interventions by Iran to undermine confidence in the process and damage Trump’s chances of winning re-election, as well as Moscow operatives that relied on Trump allies to discredit Joe Biden, the eventual winner of the election.
However, despite these threats, intelligence officials found “no indication that any foreign actor tried to interfere with the 2020 US elections by altering some technical aspect of the voting process, including the electoral roll, the casting of votes. , the tabulation of the votes or the communication of the results ”.
The report is the most recent official confirmation of the integrity of the election, even as Trump supporters continue to make false statements about interference in the process, by foreign or domestic actors, and refuse to accept Biden’s victory.
The coronavirus pandemic unleashed an unprecedented political crisis in the US and a constant confrontation between then-President Donald Trump and his successor Joe Biden.
Several courts and even Trump’s own Justice Department rejected claims that there was widespread fraud in the elections.
The document makes clear that, although Trump has doubted the legitimacy of the elections, intelligence officials believe that Russia tried to influence those close to the former president to tilt the elections in his favor.
The report delves into the task of investigating which foreign adversaries supported which candidates during the 2020 elections, a problem that made headlines last year.
Know the reasons
Trump, whose 2016 campaign profited from hacking by Russian intelligence agents and undercover work on social media, took advantage of an August intelligence assessment that China preferred Biden to win the presidency, albeit himself. The document said Russia was working to boost Trump’s candidacy by discrediting Biden.
However, the report released on Tuesday notes that, in the end, China did not interfere in favor of either party and “considered, but did not deploy” influence operations aimed at affecting the outcome.
US officials said they believe that Beijing prioritized a stable relationship with Washington and did not consider either of the two election results advantageous enough to risk the “backlash” that would ensue if caught interfering.
The salutation came after the vote in the Electoral College.
In the case of Russia, the report notes, Moscow tried to undermine Biden’s candidacy because it believed that his presidency would contravene the interests of the Kremlin, although it did take some steps to prepare for a Democratic government as the election approached.
The report also says Putin authorized influence operations with the aim of denigrating Biden, boosting Trump, undermining confidence in the electoral process and exacerbating social divisions in the United States.
A central part of that task was the use of representatives linked to Russian intelligence to “wash the narrative” through the media, federal officials and people close to Trump to promote “misleading and unfounded” accusations against Biden.
An analysis by Telemundo 51. The debate has been branded as a show that has disappointed many. Biden calls Trump a “clown” and a “Putin puppy.”
Intelligence officials did not point to a specific Trump ally in those efforts.
However, his longtime acquaintance Rudy Giuliani met several times with Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach, who in 2020 released highly edited recordings of Biden in an attempt to link the Democratic candidate to unsubstantiated allegations of corruption.
US authorities have said they consider Derkach an “active Russian agent”, and Tuesday’s report notes that Putin is believed to have had “influence” on his activities.
Less than six weeks after leaving the presidency, Donald Trump gave the closing speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday.
It is striking, however, that Russia’s attempts to hack into the electoral infrastructure were not as aggressive as in previous election cycles.
The report asserts that the Kremlin’s cyber operations that targeted local and state government networks last year were probably not targeted at elections, but were used as large-scale endeavors to attack US and global entities.
Meanwhile, Iran carried out its own influence campaign with the aim of undermining Trump’s reelection attempt, a task that federal authorities assure had the approval of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
An “extremely specific operation” – the subject of a press conference that then-National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe and FBI Director Christopher Wray gave in October – involved a series of emails that were allegedly sent by the far-right group Proud. Boys to Democratic voters in states without clear political preference and where recipients were threatened if they did not vote for Trump.
Iran’s efforts, which according to the authorities were more aggressive than in previous elections and continued even after the electoral process was concluded, focused on generating discord in the United States, possibly because Tehran believed that this would harm Trump’s chances of reelection. .
Even though Iran attempted to exploit vulnerabilities in state election websites and, in fact, “put US entities related to electoral infrastructure at risk as part of larger-scale work in different sectors globally,” it did not attempted to manipulate votes or affect electoral infrastructure, the report concluded.
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