Sep 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

FBI director confirms "very, very active" Russian efforts to interfere in election

FBI Director Chris Wray on Thursday told Congress the bureau has seen "very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020," primarily to "denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment."

Why it matters: It confirms previous statements from various intelligence officials about Russia's interference activities, which continue with less than 50 days until the election.

  • The efforts have been through proxies on social media and have aimed to "sow divisiveness and discord," Wray said.
  • Yes, but: Unlike in 2016, the Russians have not targeted election infrastructure, according to Wray.

What they're saying: Wray said that his biggest concern related to election security is the "steady drumbeat of misinformation and sort of amplification of smaller cyber intrusions" that could sow distrust in the results of the election.

  • The FBI director called for trust in the electoral process, but said he fears "people will take on a feeling of futility because of all of the noise and confusion that’s generated, and that’s a very hard problem to combat."
  • On Thursday evening, President Trump responded to Wray's testimony, tweeting: "But Chris, you don't see any activity from China, even though it is a FAR greater threat than Russia, Russia, Russia. They will both, plus others, be able to interfere in our 2020 Election without totally vulnerable Unsolicited (Counterfeit?) Ballot Scam.

The big picture: Wray also told lawmakers that "antifa" is a political ideology and not an organization as has been suggested by Trump, who has proposed treating antifa supporters like terrorists.

  • Wray did not dispute that individual antifa activists or right-wing extremists were a serious concern for the election, saying solo actors, or so-called “lone wolves,” with easy access to weapons were a primary concern.

Go deeper: The lines are blurring between foreign and domestic disinformation

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