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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

Go deeper

When U.S. politicians exploit foreign disinformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. political actors will keep weaponizing the impact of widespread foreign disinformation campaigns on American elections, making these operations that much more effective and attractive to Russia, China, Iran or other countries backing them.

Why it matters: Hostile powers’ disinformation campaigns aim to destabilize the U.S., and each time a domestic politician embraces them, it demonstrates that they work.

Aug 22, 2019 - World

Russian interference, 2020

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Americans are at each other's throats. Politically, socially and culturally, we suspect each other's motives and plain sanity. So certain are we of the other's intent to do the nation harm, some of us have joined political gangs and assaulted one another, resulting in at least 1 death.

Which is to say: Americans have played into Russian President Vladimir Putin's hands — again. It is assumed he can attack next year's elections if he so chooses, but since no outsider knows exactly how, what comes next is one of the great underlying mystery-dramas of the 2020 election campaign.

Updated Apr 18, 2019 - Politics & Policy

What the Mueller report tells us about Trump and Russia

President Trump at the Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

The first part of special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report addresses Russian interference in the 2016 election and any role the Trump campaign may have played in those efforts.

What to know: Mueller defines election interference as comprising of 2 sets of efforts: The social media disinformation campaign carried out by a Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency, and the hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails by Russian intelligence officers. He narrowly defines "coordination" as an "agreement—tacit or express—between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference."

This post is breaking news and will be updated.