NIn the opinion of the American secret services, Russia stood up for the then President Donald Trump in the run-up to the presidential election in November. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government “either carried out or at least approved” the attempted manipulation with “misleading or unfounded allegations” against challenger Joe Biden in the 15-page report released Tuesday by the office of Intelligence Coordinator Avril Haines.
The warnings were numerous in the past year: the secret services repeatedly drew attention to the fact that this time too Russians would try to influence the presidential election. Incumbent Donald Trump always weighed it down – in 2016 it was he who had benefited from Russian hacker attacks and disinformation campaigns. The Democrats spent a good part of his tenure even trying to prove that Trump was working directly with the Russians, ultimately in vain. But the danger of foreign governments exerting influence was not averted – this is shown by a new intelligence report in which the services summarize their findings about the last elections. Russian President Vladimir Putin is said to have given the green light for a dirt campaign last year, this time against the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Russians, along with well-known American personalities, tried to discredit Biden with lies and rumors.
No direct manipulations
Not only Russia, but also Iran is said to have tried to influence the 2020 presidential election. According to the report, however, there have been no attempts by any foreign government to directly manipulate voting results. Last year, the secret services had already come to the conclusion that there was no such broad-based campaign as in 2016 four years later. At the time, Russian hackers stole emails from the Democratic Party that Wikileaks later published. There were also false reports and disinformation campaigns on social media, which were controlled from Russian troll farms.
This time there were no attacks of a similar size. But the secret services found evidence that the Russian government was intent on harming Joe Biden. Biden opposed many of their interests – as Barack Obama’s Vice President, he had supported Russian opposition leaders and condemned Putin’s military aggression in Crimea and Ukraine. Putin is said to have tried to spread lies about Biden through well-known American personalities in 2020. The people were not named in the report, but some are said to have been close to Donald Trump. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former lawyer, had met with Russians and Ukrainians several times. Ukrainians are said to have purposefully leaked false information about Biden to the American media. Putin himself authorized such actions, the report said.
According to the American secret services, for example, the Ukrainian politician Andriy Derkach is said to be an agent of the Russians, and the Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on him. Derkach spread rumors in 2019 of Biden’s alleged involvement in corruption in Ukraine. The starting point for this was always the fact that Joe Biden’s son Hunter had been on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma from 2014 to 2019. No personal misconduct had been proven against him. Giuliani, in turn, who was supposed to be looking for “incriminating” information about Biden on behalf of Trump in Ukraine, also met with Derkach. As is well known, Trump went so far as to want to use Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj for his own protection campaign against Biden.
Allegations also against Iran
The intelligence report also deals with other countries. Iran pursued a different goal than Russia. The leaders of the Islamic Republic were concerned with weakening Trump – they preferred Biden as the new American president, but used methods similar to those of the Russians. For example, Iranian hackers sent emails to voters who were registered as Democrats. They pretended to be supporters of the radical right-wing “Proud Boys” and called on the recipients to vote for Trump. The aim was to get Democrats to vote and accuse the other side of dirty tricks. According to the report, the hacking action was approved by Iran’s “Supreme Leader”, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. China, on the other hand, has considered similar influencing actions, but not carried out because it is interested in a stable relationship with the Americans, according to the paper.
The danger of foreign attacks on the democratic process is still topical, said the national intelligence chief Avril Haines, who published the report on Monday. It is always about sowing discord and thus undermining the confidence of the Americans in the democratic process. The publication goes back to work that was still done under the Trump administration – it shows once again that significant parts of the security authorities also worked independently under his administration. After all, the results, many of which had become known in the past few months, contradict many of Trump’s claims. Among other things, the former president had explicitly defended Putin and he had questioned the findings of his secret services when it came to the attempts to influence elections in 2016 and the dangers for 2020.
#Intelligence #report #Putin #authorized #smear #campaign #Biden