In a joint statement released today by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, U.S. national security agencies warned that China, Russia, and Iran will seek to meddle in this fall’s midterms and 2020 presidential election.
The Office of The Director of National Intelligence, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), DOJ (Department of Justice), and DHS (Department of Homeland Security) stated the following.
“We are concerned about ongoing campaigns by Russia, China and other foreign actors, including Iran, to undermine confidence in democratic institutions and influence public sentiment and government policies. These activities also may seek to influence voter perceptions and decision making in the 2018 and 2020 U.S. elections.”
Foreign actors, national security agencies warn, are likely to use a wide variety of campaigns to influence American voters, including using social media to spread disinformation and sow division, sponsoring content in English-language state media like Russia Today, and seeding disinformation through “sympathetic” spokespersons to disseminate foreign propaganda.
While foreign meddling is a “threat” to American democracy, according to national security agencies, there is currently no evidence to support the claim that foreign actors are meddling in upcoming elections, or U.S. internal affairs.
In order to aid the U.S. national security community in preventing foreign election and other meddling, the American public and government officials need to follow “sound cyber security guidelines” and be “responsible consumers of information,” the ODNI, DOJ, FBI, and DHS concluded.
The joint statements come weeks before Election Day on November 6 — when Americans will vote House, Senate, and gubernatorial races — and follow a Justice Department announcement of Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova’s indictment.
As The Daily Beast reported, federal prosecutors indicted Khusyaynova, a Russian national, alleging that she is part of an ongoing influence campaign designed and directed by the Kremlin.
Khusyaynova is alleged to be the chief accountant of official Moscow’s Project Lakhta. The organization is being accused of using social media to spread disinformation and fake news.
Russia, China and Iran waging influence campaigns for midterms, 2020: Feds https://t.co/rNaKxv9SKq— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) October 19, 2018
Since 2016, election meddling has been a lingering concern for U.S. officials and the American public. Russia has been accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential election. An investigation probing possible coordination between official Kremlin and the Trump campaign was launched in 2017.
Amid reports of ongoing influence campaigns, National Security Adviser John Bolton announced that he would be visiting Moscow to meet with senior Russian leaders.
“Heading to Moscow tomorrow to meet with senior Russian leaders, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, to continue discussions that began in Helsinki between our two countries,” Bolton said, according to Reuters.