US Intel: Foreign actors meddling in presidential campaign

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WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence officials believe that Russia is using a variety of measures to hurt Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden ahead of the November election and favor President Donald Trump’s reelection bid, the country’s counterintelligence chief said.

U.S. officials also believe China does not want Trump to win a second term.

The statement Friday from William Evanina connects Moscow’s disapproval of Biden to his role as vice president in shaping Obama administration policies supporting Ukraine.

Asked about the intelligence assessment Friday evening in Bedminster, New Jersey, Trump said, “I think the last person Russia wants to see in office is Donald Trump because nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have — ever.”

But the president seemed to agree with the intelligence indicating China didn’t want him reelected. “If Joe Biden was president, China would own our country,” he said.

The latest intelligence assessment includes Iran as well, warning that hostile foreign actors may seek to compromise election infrastructure, interfere with the voting process or call into question voting results.

“Many foreign actors have a preference for who wins the election, which they express through a range of overt and private statements; covert influence efforts are rarer,” said Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.

The White House reacted to Friday’s news with a statement saying “the United States will not tolerate foreign interference in our electoral processes and will respond to malicious foreign threats that target our democratic institutions.”

Democrats in Congress who have participated in recent classified briefings on election interference have expressed alarm at what they have heard. They have urged the U.S. intelligence community to make public some of their concerns.

—AP stories contributed to this report.

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