Russia’s government tried to seed the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign with “misleading or unsubstantiated allegations” against then-candidate Joe Biden through allies of former President Trump and his administration, U.S. intelligence officials said on Tuesday.
The assessment was made in a 15-page report into election interference published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It underscores allegations that Trump’s allies were playing into Moscow’s hands by amplifying claims made against Biden by Russian-linked Ukrainian figures in the run up to the Nov. 3 election. Biden defeated Trump and took office on Jan. 20.
U.S. intelligence agencies found other attempts to sway voters, including a “multi-pronged covert influence campaign” by Iran intended to undercut Trump’s support. The report also punctures a counter-narrative pushed by Trump’s allies that China was interfering on Biden’s behalf, concluding that Beijing “did not deploy interference efforts.”
“China sought stability in its relationship with the United States and did not view either election outcome as being advantageous enough for China to risk blowback if caught,” the report said.
U.S. officials said they also saw efforts by Cuba, Venezuela and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to influence the election, although “in general, we assess that they were smaller in scale than those conducted by Russia and Iran.”
U.S. intelligence agencies and former Special Counsel Robert Mueller previously concluded that Russia also interfered in the 2016 U.S. election to boost Trump’s candidacy with a campaign of propaganda aimed at harming his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.