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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury on Thursday added Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach to its "Specially Designated Nationals" list for alleged efforts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, including by promoting "false and unsubstantiated" allegations targeting Joe Biden.

The big picture: Derkach has been "an active Russian agent for over a decade," maintaining close ties to Russian intelligence services, according to a statement by the Treasury. The designation will freeze Derkach's assets in the U.S.

  • The Treasury also designated three Russian nationals — Artem Lifshits, Anton Andreyev and Darya Aslanova — for their work for the Internet Research Agency, which was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller for its social media disinformation operations.

Details: From at least late last year until mid-2020, Derkach launched a secret influence campaign using "false and unsubstantiated" narratives to spur corruption investigations in the U.S. and Ukraine, according to the news release.

  • Between May and July, Derkash released edited audio tapes and other unsubstantiated claims to discredit U.S. officials.
  • He "almost certainly targeted the U.S. voting populace, prominent U.S. persons, and members of the U.S. government," according to the Treasury.

Between the lines: Derkach told Politico in July that he had sent Biden-related materials to U.S. lawmakers. He had previously met with President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani as part of Giuliani's efforts to dig up dirt on Biden in Ukraine.

The backdrop: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence assessed last month that "Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden," citing Derkach's release of tapes of Biden's conversations with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko as an example.

What they're saying: "Andrii Derkach and other Russian agents employ manipulation and deceit to attempt to influence elections in the United States and elsewhere around the world,” Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.

  • “The United States will continue to use all the tools at its disposal to counter these Russian disinformation campaigns and uphold the integrity of our election system.”

Go deeper

Oct 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden to Trump: "I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life"

Former VP Joe Biden pushed back Thursday against allegations from President Trump, saying he had never profited from foreign sources. "Nothing was unethical," Biden told debate moderator Kristen Welker about his son Hunter's work in Ukraine while he was vice president.

Why it matters: Earlier on Thursday, Hunter Biden's former business partner, Tony Bobulinski, released a statement saying Joe Biden's claims that he never discussed overseas business dealings with his son were "false."

Trump and lawmakers react to intel alert on Russia and Iran election interference

Sen. Mark Warner and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in Washington, D.C. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump and lawmakers reacted to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe's announcement that Iran and Russia sought to influence the U.S. election by obtaining voter registration data in an attempt to spread false information.

What they're saying: Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Vice Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) urged Americans in a joint statement to "be cautious" ahead of the Nov. 3 election "about believing or spreading unverified, sensational claims related to votes and voting."

Heat wave enveloping West will shatter records, spark wildfires

The sun sets behind power lines in Rosemead, California on June 14, 2021, amid an early season heatwave across much of California this week. Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

A dangerous and widespread mid-June heat wave is bringing blowtorch-like heat, skyrocketing power demand, and “critical” wildfire danger to much of the West Tuesday through this weekend.

Why it matters: The heat is building in a region that is experiencing a record drought, leading to dangerous fire weather conditions, straining electrical grids, and causing water supplies to dwindle further. The heat itself may prove deadly.