Russia and Iran carried out operations and tried to interfere in 2020 US Presidential Election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, according o a declassified intelligence report released on Tuesday. However, the agencies found no evidence that foreign actors tried to alter votes or other technical aspects of the voting process.
The intelligence agencies also confirmed that China did not try to change the outcome of the 2020 elections. The assessment was released as the Biden administration works to bolster relationships with key US allies in order to mount pressure on Russia and Iran. Biden beat Trump by 306-232 in the electoral college and won the popular vote by more than 7 million.
According to the report, Russia tried to influence the election to promote former President Donald Trump, while Iran was planning to do so against him. However, no foreign actor interfered in the 2020 voting process, reported The Hill.
The 15-page report published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence mentions that Trump's allies played into Moscow's hands by amplifying claims against Biden by Ukrainian figures with links to Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized "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 further mentions that one of Russia's key strategies was to use its intelligence-linked proxies to spread misleading claims and narratives among certain U.S. media outlets and individuals — "including some close to former President Trump and his administration."
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 had met with Trump's former disgraced lawyer Rudy Giuliani in 2019 as amplified claims that Biden engaged in corrupt behavior in Ukraine when he was vice president.
Iran Made Planned Moves
Iran on the other hand made efforts to show Trump in poor light and are still ongoing, according to the report. According to the report, Iran tried to launch 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."
The report also alleges that Iran created a website in December through which it started giving death threats against US election officials and released their private details. The US intelligence agencies are confident that Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei had initiated this effort, largely aimed at sowing discord online and influencing US policy towards Iran.
Although it was earlier being speculated that China too had tried to interfere in the election, the report confirmed that China "considered" influencing the election but did not do so, as Beijing did not consider the risk "worth the reward."
The intelligence report also mentions that Russian hackers did not make persistent efforts to break into election infrastructure, unlike past elections. The report also found that, unlike in the previous presidential election cycle, there were no indications that foreign actors attempted to alter voter registration, ballots or vote tabulation in the 2020 US Presidential Election.
That said, the report also says that besides, Russia, Iran and China, US officials also saw efforts by Cuba, Venezuela and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to influence the election, although "in general, we assess that they were smaller in scale than those conducted by Russia and Iran".
In a statement, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-California, said that the report shows Russia continues to be the biggest threat to US elections and this time too it wasn't any different. The investigation was carried out by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA.