China and Iran don't want Trump to win reelection, Russia working against Biden, says intelligence community's top election official
The US intelligence community's top election security official said in a statement Friday that China "prefers" an outcome where President Donald Trump is not reelected in November and Russia is working to denigrate former Vice President Joe Biden's White House bid.
"We assess that China prefers that President Trump -- whom Beijing sees as unpredictable -- does not win reelection," said William R. Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, in a statement updating the election threat landscape heading into the November election.
"China has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China's interests, and deflect and counter criticism of China."
"We assess that Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia 'establishment.' This is consistent with Moscow's public criticism of him when he was Vice President for his role in the Obama Administration's policies on Ukraine and its support for the anti-Putin opposition inside Russia," Evanina added.
Evanina also stated that Iran is seeking to "undermine US democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country."
The statement from Evanina is the clearest the intelligence community has been in suggesting Russia prefers one candidate over the other in the 2020 race.
The intelligence community in 2017 assessed Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an "influence campaign" aimed at harming Hillary Clinton and designed to help Trump win.
CNN reported Friday that US intelligence officials presented information to lawmakers and presidential campaigns indicating Russia is behind an ongoing disinformation push targeting Biden.
Biden's campaign advisers have already discussed Evanina's assessment, according to one person familiar with the discussions. The team has specifically focused on the semantics of the statement as it relates to the former vice president, noting that Russia is unambiguously looking to "denigrate" Biden while China simply "prefers" a Trump defeat.
Evanina came under fire from Democratic leaders last month when he last issued a warning about efforts by Russia, China and Iran to interfere in the November election. Lawmakers claimed his statement did not go "nearly far enough" in providing the American public with information about foreign attempts to influence the election.
In a joint statement, Sens. Marco Rubio, acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Friday thanked Evanina for providing the additional information about the threats and encouraged the intelligence community to "continue to make this information available."
The two senators also called on "political leaders on all sides to refrain from weaponizing intelligence matters for political gain, as this only furthers the divisive aims of our adversaries."
By Alex Marquardt, Evan Perez, Zachary Cohen and Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN via The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.
The Gayly. 8/7/2020 @ 3:19 p.m. CST.