A declassified intelligence report released on Tuesday reported that Russia and Iran undertook campaigns to influence the 2020 US presidential elections. However, agencies found no evidence that foreign actors tried to alter votes or other technical aspects of the voting process.
According to the report, Russia sought to influence the election to promote former President Donald Trump, while Iran sought to do so against him. However, no foreign actor interfered in the 2020 voting process, reported The Hill.
A classified version of the report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) was presented to then-President Trump, which did not state whether it was made available to President Joe Biden, who had not assumed office at that time.
The report also concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin 'authorised, and a range of Russian government orgsations conducted' influence operations aimed at undermining Biden's candidacy and the Democrats in Trump's favour.
The Kremlin's campaign sought to undermine public confidence in the electoral process and inflame sociopolitical divisions but did not see Russian cyber efforts gain access to election infrastructure, reported The Hill citing the report.
"A key element of Moscow's strategy this election cycle was its use of proxies linked to Russian intelligence to push influence narratives--including misleading or unsubstantiated allegations against President Biden--to US media orgzations, US officials, and prominent US individuals, including some close to former President Trump and his administration," the report stated.
Officials concluded that Putin had purview over Russian influence efforts, including actions of Andriy Derkach, a pro-Russian Ukrainian legislator who promoted false allegations about Biden and who was designated by the Treasury Department last year under Trump.
Derkach met with Trump's former attorney Rudy Giuli in 2019 as he amplified claims that Biden engaged in corrupt behavior in Ukraine when he was vice president.
However, Trump was later impeached by the House after it was revealed he asked Ukraine's president to look into the Bidens' dealings in Ukraine.
The report adds more support to government assertions that the 2020 election results were secure and free from foreign intervention, despite Trump's refusal to concede to Biden and allegations of widespread fraud, according to The Hill.
Trump had repeatedly questioned the intelligence community's assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Russia similarly sought to damage then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and aid Trump during the 2016 campaign by releasing hacked emails tied to Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.
The report also assessed that Iran's influence efforts against Trump are ongoing to "inflame domestic tensions."
According to the report, Tehran undertook 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."
It further pointed to Iran for a chilling website created in December that included death threats against US election officials and released their private details.
The intelligence community is highly confident that Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei might have authorized a government effort, largely aimed at sowing discord online and influencing US policy towards Iran.
However, Iran "did not attempt to mpulate or attack any election infrastructure," the report stated.
Meanwhile, China also 'considered' influencing the election but did not do so, as Beijing did not consider the risk "worth the reward."
"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.
Foreign cyber-criminals motivated by profits further posed a threat to the 2020 election, according to the report, by disrupting state election preparations with ransomware attacks, but did not seek to influence the outcome of the polls.
( With inputs from ANI )
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