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Russia is using a variety of methods to undermine the Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, thereby aiding President Donald Trump, the U.S. intelligence community says, in a first assessment of the run-up to the November 3 election. At the same time, China is acting against Trump due to the growing tension between the two countries, although Russia is the one trying to actually influence the results. According to intelligence officials, Russian activity is much more extensive and poses an immediate risk. While China strives to influence American politics in general, its leaders have not yet decided to intervene extensively in the presidential race, and its position is reflected primarily in growing public criticism of Trump. The assessment is included in a statement issued (Friday, 7.8.20) by the National Intelligence Director, William Avenina. He said pro-Russian elements in Ukraine were working to harm Biden, while Kremlin-linked elements were working to advance Trump’s candidacy on social media. Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, tried to obtain harmful information about Biden in Ukraine last year. The claim is that when he was Vice President Barack Obama, Biden acted to oust the Attorney General of Ukraine, who conducted an investigation against a company in which his son, Hunter Biden, served as a director. This claim lacks a factual basis, but Trump and his supporters continue to raise it. Trump directly linked this attempt to political and security ties with Ukraine – which led to his prosecution before the Senate, where he wins. According to Owenina, foreign countries will have a hard time actually influencing the vote itself, but they may try to interfere in the process or take steps that will cast doubt on the credibility of the results. Russia tried to intervene in the 2018 congressional election, but failed to undermine the voting infrastructure. An open question is, whether and how the widespread postal vote expected in November – due to the corona – will be jeopardized due to foreign intervention. The common assessment is that it is much more difficult to interfere with manual voting – in ballots or by mail – than with computerized voting, for obvious reasons. It is unclear to what extent China is trying to intervene directly in the election. Intelligence officials have updated Congress in recent days that China focuses primarily on races at the level of states and local authorities – but Avenina’s announcement shows that it is stepping up its efforts. “Although China continues to examine the risks and aversions of aggressive action, its public rhetoric in recent months has become much more critical of the administration’s response to Corona, the closure of its consulate in Houston and its actions on other issues,” he says. It refers to growing US-China tensions over recent policies in Hong Kong and the South China Sea, disputes over Chinese technology companies and an unending trade war. A US intelligence official told the New York Times that it was not right to compare Russia to China. Like a tornado that can now harm American democracy, China has been equated by a climate change intelligence man: the danger is real and serious, but in the long run. The report also says that Iran also seeks to undermine Trump and American democratic institutions and sow division in the US ahead of the election. Also to all the seats in the House of Representatives, to one-third of the seats in the Senate and to dozens of governor positions). A source in Avenina’s office told the New York Times that there was no intention to rate the risks on the part of Russia, China and Iran, all of which pose a danger to the election. He also warned that political controversy over Avenina’s report would only help those hostile elements increase divisions in American society. Another intelligence source said China could not be prevented from speaking out and gathering information about the election. Trump said in response: “The last person Russia wants to see in office is Donald Trump, because no one has been more assertive towards her than her.” According to him, if Biden is elected president, “China will own our country.” Tony Blinken, a senior aide to Biden, responded that Trump regularly sided with President Vladimir Putin when he denied Russian interference in the 2016 election – although all U.S. intelligence agencies and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller unequivocally ruled that there was such an intervention – and claimed that Trump has repeatedly publicly called for foreign interference in the election for him, with former National Security Adviser John Bolton testifying that Trump has asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to purchase agricultural products from the U.S. to help him get farmers’ votes.



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