FBI Memo Reportedly Claims Russia May Have Plans To ‘Secretly Advise Political Candidates’ In 2020 Election

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting to discuss the Ukrainian peace process at the German federal Chancellery in Berlin.
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The Associated Press reported Tuesday that it obtained a February 3 memo jointly issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security that outlined warnings about possible Russian plans to influence political candidates in the 2020 United States elections.

According to the report, the document — titled “Possible Russian Tactics Ahead of 2020 US Election” — outlined the strategies and tactics U.S. intelligence officials believe Russia may use in the upcoming elections. Per Associated Press, one notable moderate threat described was the possibility that Russia will “covertly advise candidates and campaigns.” As the publication noted, the concern is of particular interest, as it is not usually a warning intelligence officials convey to the public amid fears of Kremlin influence.

“Russia has sought to take advantage of countries that have perceived loopholes in laws preventing foreign campaign assistance,” the memo allegedly read.

The memo reportedly noted that officials claim they “have not previously observed Russia attempt this action against the United States” and pointed to Russian-linked political strategists who have been campaigning in African countries as a cause for concern.

Associated Press claimed the document highlighted various other threats, including the use of Russian-controlled media arms, the creation of fake social media personas, and the utilization of economic and business centers to influence U.S. politics.

“Among the high threats are the possibility Russia could hack and leak information like it did in the 2016 campaign, when emails stolen from the Clinton campaign by Russian military hackers were published by WikiLeaks,” the publication wrote.

The news of the memo comes as the FBI continues to face scrutiny for its handling of the investigation into Donald Trump‘s 2016 campaign and possible conspiracy with Russia — a theory that was ultimately unsupported by evidence. Recently declassified information from the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report revealed that the FBI discovered — at some point in 2017 — that Russian disinformation was present in the Steele Dossier that partly drove the investigation.

Regardless, according to the memo outlined in the Associated Press report, Trump administration officials have been warned that Russia could interfere in the 2020 election. As reported by The Hill, intelligence officials previously concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. In 2019, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report that claimed the country worked to benefit Trump and damage Hillary Clinton, who went on to lose the 2016 election.

The warnings of 2020 interference come as the president continues to downplay the alleged influence Russia had on the 2016 election and attack the FBI’s reported malpractice in its 2016 investigation of his campaign.