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FBI warns of secret Russian interference in 2020 elections

FBI agents. (Melanie Rodgers Cox/US Air Force)

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have warned states that Russia could try to interfere in the upcoming 2020 elections by secretly advising campaigns and candidates, an Associated Press report said on Monday.

In a memo sent on Feb. 3, U.S. officials outlined eight potential tactics that Russia could use in the coming months, including what they call the “high” threat of a repeat of 2016, when Russian military hackers leaked emails stolen from the Clinton campaign.

Covert advice, they say, is a “moderate” threat, but it’s notable because it’s a relatively uncommon topic of discussion compared to actions like vote hacking, financial support and fake social media personas. The memo says that while this tactic hasn’t happened before in the U.S., the strategy has been employed in Africa by political operatives associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The government agencies involved have not issued comment on the leaks.

Russia has denied interfering with U.S. elections, but U.S. officials believe that the Kremlin supported Trump in 2016 and took steps to assist his victory. Trump has held that his campaign never conspired with Russia to get to the White House, but this memo shows that his administration is clearly concerned about the ongoing threat they pose to American elections.

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