Jul 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden vows to impose "substantial and lasting costs" for foreign interference

Former Vice President Joe Biden at an event in Wilmington, DE. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden said in a lengthy statement Monday that he will consider any foreign election interference "an assault on the American people" that would result in sanctions and significantly impact the relationship between the U.S. and the interfering government.

Why it matters: Biden is the latest in a growing chorus of Democrats and intelligence officials who — with 105 days until the election — are sounding the alarm over potential disruptions similar to what the U.S. saw in the late stages of the 2016 race.

Driving the news: Earlier Monday, top Democrats in the House and Senate asked the FBI for a briefing on a "concerted foreign interference campaign" that aims "to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November."

  • U.S. intelligence officials have said that Russia, China and other foreign adversaries are actively trying to interfere in the 2020 elections.
  • During a virtual fundraiser last week, Biden — who is receiving regular intelligence briefings — said that Russia is "still engaged in trying to delegitimize our electoral process. Fact.”
  • He added: “China and others are engaged as well in activities that are designed for us to lose confidence in the outcome.”

Details: Biden said in his Monday statement that if elected president, he will treat any foreign interference as an "adversarial act" and "leverage all appropriate instruments of national power" to impose "substantial and lasting costs on state perpetrators."

  • Those costs could include "financial-sector sanctions, asset freezes, cyber responses, and the exposure of corruption," Biden said.
  • He added that he'll ensure that the U.S. intelligence community publishes a public and timely report on their findings relevant to any foreign interference.
  • Biden also said he'll direct agencies from across the government "to develop plans for disrupting foreign threats to our elections process ... so that we are isolating the regimes that seek to undermine democracies and civil liberties."

What they're saying: "[T]oday, I am putting the Kremlin and other foreign governments on notice," Biden said in the statement.

  • "I have no desire to escalate tensions with Russia or any other country. ... But if any foreign power recklessly chooses to interfere in our democracy, I will not hesitate to respond as president to impose substantial and lasting costs."
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