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US Intel Report: ‘Russia interfered in election to hurt Biden, help Trump; China didn’t interfere’

Donald Trump in Phoenix, Ariz. in Feb. 2020. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr) | Joe Biden in Altoona, Iowa in Aug. 2019. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
March 16, 2021

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden’s Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines released a report by the National Intelligence Council detailing attempts by foreign governments to influence the 2020 U.S. election. The report stated Russia sought to influence the election to support President Donald Trump while at the same time denigrate Biden’s candidacy.

The report stated, “We assess that Russian President (Vladimir) Putin authorized, and a range of Russian government organizations conducted, influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.”

The report also states China did not attempt interference or influence efforts to affect the outcome of the election, but did try to interfere in Trump’s reelection campaign.

“We assess that China did not deploy interference efforts and considered but did not deploy influence efforts intended to change the outcome of the US Presidential election,” the report reads. “The (National Intelligence Officer) for Cyber assesses, however, that China did take some steps to try to undermine former President Trump’s reelection.”

The new ODNI report reiterates its August 2020 report that determined Russia wanted to harm Biden’s candidacy, while China wanted to harm Trump’s candidacy.

The report said that, unlike in 2016, U.S. intelligence officials did not see Russian efforts to interfere with the election through cyber efforts.

“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 organizations, US officials and prominent US individuals, including some close to former President Trump and his administration,” the report added.

The assessment of the Russian efforts to influence the election comes after the New York Post ran articles in October, based on the contents of a laptop allegedly belonging to President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. The contents of the laptop included emails that appeared to show efforts by the younger Biden to introduce the older Biden to his Ukrainian business partners. At the time the story was originally published, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said the New York Post’s reporting was part of a Russian disinformation campaign. Then-DNI John Ratcliffe denied Schiff’s disinformation claim and said no intelligence existed to support that assertion.

The report said Iran also sought to interfere in the election to harm Trump’s campaign.

“We assess that Iran carried out a multi-pronged covert influence campaign intended to undercut former President Trump’s reelection prospects—though without directly promoting his rivals,” the report reads.

The report goes on to say Iran also sought to undermine public confidence in the electoral process.

Lebanese Hezbollah, Cuba and Venezuela also “took some steps to attempt to influence the election,” according to the report.

The report also stated there was no effort by foreign actors to alter any technical aspects of the election, such as voter registration, ballot casting, vote tabulation or reporting of the results.