Christopher Wray, the Director of the FBI, predicted Friday that Russia will seek to meddle in the 2020 presidential election, The Hill reports.
During a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, Wray discussed Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as alleged attempts by the Kremlin to interfere in the 2018 midterms, arguing that the Russians are “upping their game,” and looking to interfere in the 2020 presidential election.
According to Wray, even though American intelligence agencies are working on protecting the integrity of the electoral process, Russia, and other foreign actors are “adapting,” and looking for new ways to influence upcoming elections.
“Well, I think — on the one hand I think enormous strides have been made since 2016 by all the different federal agencies, state and local election officials, the social media companies,” he said, and then went on to state that the 2018 midterm elections were a “dress rehearsal” for 2020.
“I think we recognize that our adversaries are going to keep adapting and upping their game. And so we’re very much viewing 2018 as just kind of a dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020.”
The FBI director discussed Russian internet disinformation campaigns, praising tech companies for collaborating with American intelligence agencies in order to prevent abuse.
“I think those companies recognize that there is a need for them to take action so that their own platforms are not abused,” he said.
In his testimony before Congress, Google CEO Sundar Pichai revealed that Russian-government affiliated entities spent $4,700 on search engine advertisements, as per reporting from Inc.
The FBI director warned anew on Friday about Russia’s continued meddling in American elections, calling it a "significant counterintelligence threat." https://t.co/B92c0uuLtm— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 27, 2019
As Tech Crunch reported, the now-infamous Russian Internet Research Agency spent $46,000 on Facebook ad campaigns. Then-presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton spent $81 million on Facebook ads alone.
Some have disputed the significance and impact of Russian election meddling efforts, however. In a recent interview with Democracy Now, famous linguist and public intellectual Noam Chomsky described Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as “undetectable,” stating that Russian interference efforts are “peanuts” in comparison to campaign funding.
"There’s no interference in elections that begins to compare with campaign funding," says Noam Chomsky. "Campaign funding alone gives you a very high prediction of electoral outcome. ... Anything the Russians might have done is peanuts in comparison." https://t.co/Wdbetgl0rD— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) April 21, 2019
According to Noam Chomsky, by focusing on the issue of Russian election interference, and the alleged Trump-Russia conspiracy — which Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of — the Democrats “gave Trump a huge gift,” possibly handing him the 2020 election.
As The Hill notes, President Trump has frequently downplayed the issue of Russian election meddling, but administration officials have repeatedly suggested that it has to be combated, touting the government’s efforts to protect the integrity of American elections.
Trump has long been critical of investigations pertaining to Russian election interference, recently describing Robert Mueller’s probe as a “coup” designed by the Democratic Party.