- Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Russia will “pay a price” for attempted election interference at a CNN town hall.
- On Thursday, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to Congress that Russia is currently attempting to interfere in the 2020 presidential election through ‘malign foreign influence.’
- President Donald Trump publicly attacked Wray on Twitter for not addressing whether China could be committing election interference.
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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden pledged that Russia will “pay a price” for attempted election meddling in the 2020 election while speaking at a CNN town hall, as President Donald Trump attacked FBI Director Christopher Wray on Twitter for affirming that election interference is taking place in 2020.
Biden referred to election interference as a “violation of our sovereignty,” saying that if he is president and the intelligence community finds evidence that Russia interfered in the 2020 election, “they’ll pay a price for it, and it’ll be an economic price.”
Biden did not give further specifics on what that price would be, telling moderator and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper that it “would not be prudent” to do so at this time.
Earlier on Thursday, Wray confirmed in testimony to the House Committee on Homeland Security that current intelligence shows that Russia is attempting to interfere in the 2020 presidential election to undermine Biden, similarly to how Russian-linked efforts sought to boost Trump and harm 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“The intelligence community’s consensus is that Russia continues to try to influence our elections, primarily through what we could call ‘malign foreign influence,’ as opposed to what we saw in 2016 where there was an effort to target election infrastructure, you know, cyber targeting,” Wray explained.
“We have not seen that second part yet…but we certainly have seen very active efforts by the Russians to influence our elections in 2020 through what I would call the malign foreign influence side of things, by social media, use of proxies, state media, online journals in effort to both sow divisiveness and discord and, I think the intelligence community has assessed this publicly, primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as an anti-Russian establishment,” he continued.
Trump publicly lambasted Wray on Twitter on Thursday night for his comments, blasting Wray for not mentioning possible election interference from China and continuing to push a baseless and discredited theory that foreign actors will try to interfere in the election by sending out counterfeit ballots to voters.
—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2020
Both Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and members of the US intelligence community in the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence have said there is no evidence that any foreign countries are planning on committing interference through the mail.
Election experts note that mass-mailing out counterfeit ballots would be a highly ineffective and inefficient way of attempting to commit election interference. Every county and locality in the United States uses a different ballot design with different offices on the ballot depending on the precinct printed with very specific types of paper and ink.
In addition to would-be counterfeiters likely using the wrong type of paper, ink, or ballot design, many ballots and ballot envelopes include tracking numbers and barcodes unique to each voter. And on top of that, election officials use a number of measures to ensure the security of mail ballots including required signatures, signature verification, and ballot tracking.
The US intelligence community, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation found indisputable evidence of Russian-linked interference in the 2016 election, a fact that Trump denied and tried to downplay throughout the beginning of his presidency.
The interference included hacks on Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, attempted intrusions into multiple state’s voter databases, and aggressive social media disinformation campaigns aimed at dividing and polarizing voters.
Mueller’s investigation indicted 12 Russian security officers in connection with the hacks on the Clinton campaign and the DNC and 13 Russian nationals associated with a notorious troll farm that spread disinformation and inflammatory content.
The Mueller report concluded that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome” and the Trump campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”