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Russia attempted to interfere in 2020 polls: US report

Source: ANI   -  Edited By: Roshneesh Kmaneck
March 17, 2021 10:46 IST
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A declassified report by the United States intelligence released stated that Russia and Iran undertook campaigns to influence the 2020 Presidential election, but intelligence agencies found no evidence that foreign actors tried to alter votes or other technical aspects of the voting process.

According to The Hill, the two foreign campaigns sought to influence the election for different results -- Russia, to promote former US President Donald Trump for the second term at the White House, while Iran went against him -- but among five key judgements outlined in the declassified report is that no foreign actor interfered in the 2020 voting process.

A classified version of the report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was presented to Trump, congressional leadership and committees with oversight over intelligence operations on January 7.


The report did not state whether it was made available to US President Biden, who had not yet entered office at that time.

"The IC (intelligence community) identified some successful compromises of state and local government networks prior to Election Day -- as well as a higher volume of unsuccessful attempts--that we assess were not directed at altering election processes. Some foreign actors, such as Iran and Russia, spread false or inflated claims about alleged compromises of voting systems to undermine public confidence in election processes and results," the report read.

"We have high confidence in these judgments because a range of Russian state and proxy actors who all serve the Kremlin's interests worked to affect US public perceptions. We also have high confidence because of the consistency of themes in Russia's influence efforts across the various influence actors and throughout the campaign, as well as in Russian leaders ' assessments of the candidates," the report added.

The report pointed out that a key element of Moscow's strategy this election cycle was its use of people linked to Russian intelligence to "launder influence narratives including misleading or unsubstantiated allegations" against Biden -- through US media organisations, US officials, and prominent US individuals, some of whom were close to former President Trump and his administration.

"We assess that President (Vladimir) Putin and other senior Russian officials were aware of and probably directed Russia's influence operations against the 2020 US Presidential election. We assess that Putin had a purview over the activities of Andriy Derkach, a Ukrainian legislator who played a prominent role in Russia's election influence activities. Derkach has ties to Russian officials as well as Russia's intelligence services," the report stated.

According to The Hill, Derkach met with Trump's then-personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in 2019 as he amplified claims that Biden engaged in corrupt behavior in Ukraine while vice president. Trump was impeached by the House in December 2019 after it was revealed he asked Ukraine's president to look into the Bidens' dealings in Ukraine.

"The primary effort the IC uncovered revolved around a narrative--that Russian actors began spreading as early as 2014 -- alleging corrupt ties between President Biden, his family and other US officials in Ukraine," the report said.

US officials said in October that Russia and Iran were seeking to influence the election, including by obtaining voter registration data, but the report released Tuesday provides a full and detailed account of the intelligence community's findings. Trump administration officials blamed Iran for sending threatening emails to voters that purported to be from a far-right group at the time.

As per The Hill, Trump administration officials, including then-Attorney General William Barr, asserted there was "no evidence of widespread fraud that could alter the outcome of the elections."

Trump's numerous efforts to challenge the results in court were tossed out. His false claims about the election eventually fueled supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6.

The report stated that Tehran's efforts were aimed at denigrating former US President Trump, not actively promoting his rivals and "inflame domestic tensions."

"We assess that Tehran designed its campaign to attempt to influence US policy toward Iran, distract US leaders with domestic issues, and to amplify messages sympathetic to the Iranian regime. Iran's efforts in 2020 -- especially its emails to individual US voters and efforts to spread allegations of voter fraud -- were more aggressive than in past election cycles."

The report highlighted "proactive information sharing" with social media companies as key to quickly identifying foreign actors' influence operations, disrupting their efforts and taking down fake accounts linked to foreign governments.

China "considered" but did not try to influence the election to change its outcome, in an assessment that Beijing did not consider the risk "worth the reward", according to the report. "China sought stability in its relationship with the United States and did not view either election outcome as being advantageous enough for China to risk blowback if caught," the report said.

The Russian Embassy in Washington said in a statement the US intelligence accusations against Russia do not help build better relations with Russia.

"Blaming external actors for destabilization of the situation inside the country - such attitude of the [US] administration is unlikely to correspond to equal and mutually respectful expert dialogue we have proposed to find solutions to the most urgent issues," the embassy said as quoted by Sputnik.

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Source: ANI  -  Edited By: Roshneesh Kmaneck
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