Russia and Iran both sought to influence the 2020 election, but no foreign government attempted to change votes or alter ballots, according to a report by the intelligence community released Tuesday.
While Russia sought to undermine President Biden’s candidacy by spreading misinformation, Iran carried out a “multi-pronged” influence campaign to torpedo former President Trump’s reelection prospects the report concluded.
Intelligence officials also revealed that China did not interfere with the U.S. election, but a slew of new players — including Lebanese Hezbollah, Cuba and Venezuela — took some steps to influence the election.
The Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security said in a joint statement that they investigated multiple claims of foreign governments attempting to disrupt or control the U.S. election infrastructure, but none of those claims were credible.
“The Departments found no evidence that any foreign government-affiliated actor manipulated election results or otherwise compromised the integrity of the 2020 federal elections,” they wrote in the report.
The findings confirmed statements by public officials and media reports that there was on widespread effort to influence American voters similar to the campaign Russia waged in 2016 when it hacked and released emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee.
Instead, Russia used people tied to its intelligence agencies to raise “misleading or unsubstantiated claims” against Mr. Biden through the media outlets, the report said.
“Iranian officials’ preference that former President Trump not be reelected were driven in part by a perception that the regime faced acute threats from the U.S.,” the report said.
China did not try to influence the election because it did not view either candidate as favorable to its world influence. Officials in the country believed that it was better off shaping U.S. policy through lobbying and economic measures.
As for the other actors, intelligence officials said their efforts to influence the election were smaller in scale than Iran and Russia. For example, Cuba sought to undermine Mr. Trump’s reelection by pushing anti-Republican, pro-Democrat narratives in Latin America, the report said.
Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the report shows that the U.S. is better protected from election threats than in 2016.
But he emphasized that more work needs to be done.
“The problem of foreign actors trying to influence the American electorate is not going away and, given the current partisan divides in this country, may find fertile ground in which to grow in the future,” he said in a statement.
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