Russia continues interfering in election to try to help Trump – U.S. Intelligence report says

A new assessment says China would prefer to see Trump defeated, though Beijing is not doing much to meddle in the 2020 campaign to help Joseph R. Biden.

WASHINGTON D.C. United States (The New York Times) — Russia uses a range of techniques to denigrate Joseph R. Biden Jr., American intelligence officials said Friday in their first public assessment that Moscow continues to try to interfere in the 2020 campaign to help Trump.

At the same time, the officials said China preferred that Trump be defeated in November and weigh whether to take more aggressive action in the election.

Officials briefed on the intel said that Russia was the far graver and more immediate threat. While China seeks to gain influence in American politics, its leaders have not yet decided to wade directly into the presidential contest, however much they may dislike Mr. Trump, the officials said.

The assessment, included in a statement released by William R. Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, suggested the intelligence community was treading carefully, reflecting the political heat generated by previous findings. 

The White House has objected in the past to conclusions that Moscow is working to help Trump, and Democrats on Capitol Hill have expressed growing concern that the intelligence agencies are not being forthright enough about Russia’s preference for him and that the agencies are introducing China’s anti-Trump stance to balance the scales. 

The assessment appeared to distinguish between what is called the “range of measures” being deployed by Moscow to influence the election and its conclusion that China prefers Trump to be defeated.

It cited efforts coming out of pro-Russia forces in Ukraine to damage Mr. Biden and Kremlin-linked figures who “are also seeking to boost Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.” It said that China has so far signaled its position mostly through increased public criticism of the administration’s tough line on China on a variety of fronts.

Asked about the report during a news conference on Friday night at his golf club in New Jersey, Trump shrugged off the latest intelligence warning. “I don’t care what anybody says,” Trump responded to the new information. “The last person Russia wants to see in the office is Donald Trump because nobody’s been tougher on Russia than I have.” He said that if Joe Biden won the presidency, “China would own our country.”

Aides and allies of Joe Biden assailed Trump, saying that he had repeatedly sided with President Vladimir V. Putin on whether Russia had intervened to help him in 2016 and that the House had impeached him for trying to pressure Ukraine into helping him undercut Biden.

The release on Friday was short on specifics because the intelligence community intends to protect its sources of information. Intelligence officials said there was no way to avoid political criticism when releasing information about the election. An official with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that the goal was not to rank order threats and that Russia, China, and Iran all pose a danger to the election.