Russia, China and Iran may be interfering in the 2020 US presidential campaign, with Russia specifically using a 'range of measures' to target presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden, National Counterintelligence and Security Center director Bill Evanina announced Friday.
"Many foreign actors have a preference for who wins the election, which they express through a range of overt and private statements; covert influence efforts are rarer," Evanina said in a statement published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
"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'," Evanina noted.
"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," the official added.
Evanina did not offer any evidence to back up the allegation, except to suggest that 'pro-Russian' Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach has been "spreading claims about corruption - including through publicizing leaked phone calls," to undermine Biden and the Democrats. "Some Kremlin-leaked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump's candidacy on social media and Russian television," he added, again without offering specific examples.
China, meanwhile, wants President Donald Trump to lose the upcoming election, in the US intelligence community's estimation. "We assess that China prefers that President Trump -whom Beijing sees as unpredictable - does not win reelection. 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 interest, and deflect and counter criticism of China," Evanina said.
The official did not point to any specific examples of these Chinese 'influence efforts', apart from public statements by Chinese officials criticizing the Trump administration on issues ranging from the coronavirus to the recent closure of the PRC's Houston Consulate to the US move to try to shut down Chinese video sharing service TikTok.
In the case of Iran, that country simply "seeks to undermine US democratic institutions" generally, to attack President Trump "and divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections," according to Evanina. The Islamic Republic's efforts are expected to be limited mostly to "online influence," such as "spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-US content," in the counterintelligence chief's view.
Democratic officials spent three years of Trump's term in office accusing him of being Russia's 'puppet' and claiming that his campaign and the Kremlin 'colluded' to win the 2016 presidential race. Proponents of these allegations suffered a serious blow in April 2019, when former FBI Director Robert Mueller released his long-awaited investigation on the matter, finding no evidence of collusion, and an alleged 'Russian meddling campaign' limited mostly to funding some trolls on Facebook and Twitter.