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7 Aug, 2020 21:11

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t? US intel director warns all election outcomes may be driven by Russia, China or Iran

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t? US intel director warns all election outcomes may be driven by Russia, China or Iran

If President Donald Trump wins reelection, it’s likely the Russians’ meddling, but if he loses, it’s the Chinese or the Iranians’ doing, according to a statement by the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center.

Warning Americans that “foreign states will continue to use covert and overt influence measures in their attempts to sway US voters’ preferences and perspectives,” NCSC director William Evanina revealed on Friday in what direction the US’ rivals wanted to swing the vote.

The answer? ALL OF THEM.

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China, Evanina said, “prefers that President Trump – whom Beijing sees as unpredictable – does not win reelection.” Noting that Beijing has been critical of Trump’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic (which the president has blamed on China) and behavior regarding TikTok and Huawei (both of which Washington has sought to exclude from the market), the director explained that China was “expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020.” Washington’s decision to shutter China’s Houston consulate wasn’t very popular back home either, he added.

So all anti-Trump material can be pinned on Beijing? Not quite. Iran wants to “undermine US democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country” ahead of November’s vote too, Evanina announced, suggesting the Islamic Republic’s work would focus on “online influence, such as spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-US content.” The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran was, he suggested, driving them around the bend.

So, if Trump wins, he’s defeated the nefarious plots of the Chinese and Iranians? Alas, Evanina warned, Russia is “using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment.’” Whether by releasing Biden’s “leaked phone calls” via Ukrainian politicians, or fluffing up Trump “on social media and Russian television” (which apparently has a greater reach than CNN or the New York Times), the Kremlin, the NCSC director declared, wants four more years of Trump.

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Evanina was rather vague on how, exactly, the nefarious foreign powers would be guiding Americans’ hands in the voting booth – or how much resources each country was devoting to swaying the all-important US election – but his point seemed to be that they were all doing it, and that Americans had better be vigilant if they wanted to keep their democracy safe.

What’s a voter to do should they desire not to do the bidding of an evil foreign government, but still want to participate in the election? Evanina attempted to reassure worried Americans that intel agencies are “doing everything in [their] power to combat both cyber and influence efforts targeting our electoral process.” Presumably Americans will be told who to vote for to outwit those dastardly foreigners in short order.

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