Nov 6, 2019

Security agencies warn Russia, China, Iran aim to interfere in 2020 election

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The heads of government agencies including the FBI, Department of Justice and National Security Agency warned in a joint security statement Tuesday that foreign actors would seek to interfere in the 2020 election.

Russia, China, Iran, and other foreign malicious actors all will seek to interfere in the voting process or influence voter perceptions."

Why it matters: The announcement comes as House Democrats probe whether President Trump pressed Ukraine to interfere in next year's election by asking the nation’s leader to investigate his potential 2020 opponent former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

  • Former special counsel Robert Mueller said during testimony on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election that "many more countries are developing capabilities to replicate what the Russians have done. ... They are doing it as we sit here and they expect to do it during the next campaign."
  • There's now a federal investigation into the Trump-Russia probe.

The big picture: The Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security, Director of National Intelligence and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency are the other agencies named in the statement declaring election security a "top priority for the United States government.”

  • The statement noted that the 2020 election was less than a year away, while "dozens of states and local jurisdictions are hosting their own elections across the country" on Tuesday.

What they're saying: In an unprecedented level of coordination, the agencies said the U.S. government "is working with all 50 states and U.S. territories, local officials, and private sector partners to identify threats, broadly share information, and protect the democratic process."

  • They said they're committed to quickly sharing information, providing support and defending against threats to U.S. democracy. They urged Americans to go to trusted sources and officials for election information and to report any suspicious activity to their local officials, the FBI or DHS.
"Our adversaries want to undermine our democratic institutions, influence public sentiment, and affect government policies. ... Adversaries may try to accomplish their goals through a variety of means, including social media campaigns, directing disinformation operations, or conducting disruptive or destructive cyberattacks on state and local infrastructure."

Yes, but: The agencies said there's no evidence at this time "of a compromise or disruption to election infrastructure that would enable adversaries to prevent voting, change vote counts, or disrupt the ability to tally votes, we continue to vigilantly monitor any threats to U.S. elections."

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