Russia and Iran both carried out operations to try to interfere in the 2020 presidential election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, according to a U.S. intelligence report released Tuesday.
The U.S. intelligence community also determined that China did not try to change the outcome of the 2020 races and said there are no indications that foreign actors attempted to alter U.S. ballots or vote tabulation, the report says.
The assessment was released as the Biden administration works to bolster relationships with key U.S. allies in order to mount pressure on Russia and Iran.
“From his first phone call with President Putin, President Biden has been clear that the United States will respond to a number of destabilizing Russian actions,” a White House official said in a statement to NBC News later Tuesday.
Those actions include the SolarWinds hack, for which U.S. agencies say Russia is likely to blame, as well as the alleged poisoning of prominent Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, the statement said.
“You’ve already seen us take a number of actions in response to Russia’s use of a chemical weapon in the attempted murder of Alexey Navalny,” the official said. “There will be more soon.”
Tehran and Moscow have previously denied any involvement in attempting to influence U.S. elections.
But the report said that Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized “influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.”
One of Moscow’s key strategies, the report said, was to use Russian intelligence-linked proxies to spread misleading claims and narratives among certain U.S. media outlets and individuals — “including some close to former President Trump and his administration.”
Those plans were put in action by “a range of Russian government organizations,” according to the report.
Iran, meanwhile, “carried out a multi-pronged covert influence campaign intended to undercut former President Trump’s reelection prospects—though without directly promoting his rivals—undermine public confidence in the electoral process and US institutions, and sow division and exacerbate societal tensions in the US,” according to the report.
Intelligence experts also found that China, which was previously thought to be expanding its U.S. influence efforts, ultimately did not deploy operations to affect the outcome of the Trump-Biden election.
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