U.S. intel: Putin likely directed 2020 election meddling

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The anti-Trump coverage was mirrored on-air as its chyron similarly read, "US INTEL: RUSSIA TRIED TO INTERFERE IN 2020 ELECTION TO HELP TRUMP, "DENIGRADE" BIDEN". "China sought stability in its relationship with the United States, did not view either election outcome as being advantageous enough for China to risk getting caught meddling". A new USA intelligence report says the Russian leader "probably directed" his country's efforts to interfere with the US presidential election past year.

Though Iran sought to exploit the vulnerabilities of state election websites, and did "compromise USA entities associated with election infrastructure as a part of a broad targeting effort across multiple sectors worldwide", it did not attempt to manipulate votes or affect election infrastructure.

The report also found that there were no efforts by Russian Federation or other countries to change ballots themselves, unlike in 2016.

Iranian personnel ramped up the generation of thousands of fake social media accounts, sent phishing emails to USA officials and political campaign members and sought to exploit vulnerabilities on the election websites of U.S. states.

The report also said foreign actors including Cuba, Venezuela, and Lebanon's Hezbollah terror group "took some steps" to influence the election, though it did not describe those measures.

Intelligence experts also found that China, which was previously thought to be expanding its USA influence efforts, ultimately did not deploy operations to affect the outcome of the election.

The 15-page report, released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, added heft to longstanding allegations that some of Trump's top lieutenants were playing into Moscow's hands by amplifying claims made against then-candidate Joe Biden by Russian-linked Ukrainian figures in the run-up to the November 3 election. That operation included the hack and leak of Democratic emails and was meant to bolster Mr. Trump, according to US intelligence agencies and a bipartisan Senate review.

The authors of the report said they looked exclusively at the impact of foreign government activity on the security and integrity of election infrastructure.

The intelligence community said it made these assessments with high confidence and insisted that no foreign actors "attempted to alter any technical aspect of the voting process".

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The intelligence report was released at the same time as a joint investigation by the departments of Justice and Homeland Security which came to a similar conclusion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a campaign to help former President Donald Trump and undermine President Biden in last year's election, according to USA intelligence.

The report wades into the politically charged task of ferreting out which foreign adversaries supported which candidates during the 2020 election, an issue that dominated headlines previous year. The report largely affirms previous assessments dating back to last summer about Russia's and Iran's actions and intentions.

Last August, the then-top USA counterintelligence official, William Evanina, issued a statement saying that Russia was using a range of measures "to primarily denigrate" Trump's opponent, former vice president Joe Biden, and significantly, that a pro-Russia Ukrainian lawmaker, Andriy Derkach, also was seeking to undermine Biden's candidacy. It reported that Russian officials frequently attacked Mr. Biden in Russian media, especially over his role in leading Ukraine policy during the Obama administration and his support for anti-Putin figures. As an example, Putin "had purview over the activities of Andriy Derkach", a Ukrainian lawmaker who played a prominent role in the effort and has ties to Russian intelligence, the report said.

The report did not name those people but seemed to be a reference to the work of Trump's former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who relentlessly pushed allegations of corruption about Biden and his family involving Ukraine.

'These efforts by USA adversaries seek to exacerbate divisions and undermine confidence in our democratic institutions, ' she warned.

Beijing, meanwhile, sees a bipartisan US consensus against China that leaves "no prospect" for a pro-China administration, and saw little to be gained by trying to sway the vote one way or another, the report found.

Moscow, Beijing and Tehran routinely deny allegations of cyberespionage and election interference. The absence of a concerted effort by Russian Federation to change votes suggests that Moscow had refocused its intelligence service on a broader effort to hack the US government. The Iranian cyber campaign relied on cheap, scalable methods that didn't require physical access to the US, the report found.

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