A US intelligence report released Tuesday said that Iran tried to “undercut” former President Donald Trump’s reelection prospects last year, while Russia worked to “denigrate” President Joe Biden’s candidacy and Democratic Party.
Russia has been accused of helping Trump become the 45th president through disinformation campaigns during the 2016 elections, although US courts have not judged that to be the case.
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Last year’s elections were highly contested between Trump and Biden, and foreign countries were accused of trying to steer the outcome.
Although the intelligence report said there were no indications that any foreign actor tried to alter the “technical aspect of the voting process” during the November elections, countries did conduct activity online and in the media in an attempt to interfere.
“We assess that Iran carried out a multi-pronged covert influence campaign intended to undercut former President Donald Trump’s reelection prospects – though without directly promoting his rivals – undermind public confidence in the electoral process and US institutions, and sow division and exacerbate societal tensions in the US,” the National Intelligence Council said.
The report found that Iran’s efforts to ensure Trump was not reelected “were driven in part by a perception that the regime faced acute threats from the US.”
But Tehran continues to use “influence operations” to try to inflame domestic tensions in the US, the report said.
The Iranian regime is trying to exploit post-election tensions “to collect intelligence.”
Iran’s proxies and allies also tried to interfere via cybercriminals. “We assess that a range of additional foreign actors – including Lebanese Hezbollah, Cuba and Venezuela – took some steps to attempt to influence the election.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized operations “aimed at denigrating” Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, “supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, the report said.
Russia also tried to project misleading or unsubstantial allegations against Biden to US outlets and officials, “including some close to former President Trump and his administration.”
As for China, the report claims that it “considered but did not deploy influential efforts intended to change the outcome of the US Presidential election.”
China sought stability in its relationship with Washington and did not consider either outcome to be advantageous “enough for China to risk getting caught meddling.”
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