The report, released by National Intelligence Director Avril Haines, considers that Moscow tried to inject misleading information about Biden into the campaign through officials and others close to Trump.
The real bomb it contains is not the confidence of the intelligence agencies that Russia hoped to subvert American democracy. U.S. intelligence experts effectively confirmed that, for the second consecutive election, Trump acolytes repeatedly used, consciously or not, the misinformation produced by the spies of one of the most sworn foreign opponents in the United States by trying to win an election in the United States.
And given the advantage of retrospect, the latest intelligence assessment is not just an isolated example of incriminating evidence against Russia and its efforts to create chaos and discord in the United States.
For all the stale American debate over whether Trump and his aides “colluded” with Russia, there are now multiple reports, intelligence assessments and other details known to expose a condemnatory reality: Moscow with its intrusion electoral, Trump acolytes pushing false voter claims fraud and Republican Party supporters in states that now pass voter suppression laws share the same goal: denigrating the U.S. democratic system.
The willingness of the former president’s men to use Russian disinformation in 2020, while denying collusion in 2016, was just one of the axes of the assault on the integrity of the US election. After all, it came when Trump challenged the democratic customs that form the basis of American liberties.
Thus, the candidate who helped Moscow win the 2016 election became four years later the main destructive force aimed at American democracy.
It should be worrying that the sentiments of many Republicans who falsely denounce justice in the current U.S. electoral system seem to coincide with those of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ultimately, the most alarming implication of Tuesday’s publication of the report is that it may not be necessary for Russia to interfere in the 2024 presidential election in the same way as in 2016 and 2020.
From Trump’s lies about a stolen second term to claims by some Republican governors that making it harder to vote makes elections more democratic, some Americans are already doing much more to damage the U.S. system. of what Moscow can.
Trump’s China claims discredited
The report notes that Iran also tried to interfere in the elections, but that no foreign power, not even Russia, tried to change the total number of votes or attack the electoral infrastructure. U.S. intelligence agencies also assessed that China considered trying to influence the outcome, but did not, largely undermining Trump’s false claims to the contrary, that his administration knew they were false but that they were still the days before Biden’s victory.
While attempts to influence the opinions of American voters are serious – and are likely to draw American sanctions, according to White House officials – they ultimately failed. Biden prevailed in the election and Moscow did not go as far as it had to damage former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton four years earlier with its piracy scheme.
But the report includes new and disturbing assessments of how Moscow was able to re-use those around Trump, often in plain sight, to discredit the U.S. election and try to influence the outcome.
He finds, for example, that Putin had “competence” over the activities of Andrii Derkach, a Ukrainian lawmaker whom the U.S. says is an active Russian agent. Derkach collaborated with Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani to spread misinformation during Trump’s first removal. This drama was caused by the ex-president’s effort to convince Kiev to investigate Biden for false accusations perpetrated by people close to Moscow.
The DNI report did not mention Giuliani by name.
But he said: “A key element of Moscow’s strategy in this election cycle was the use of people linked to Russian intelligence to whitewash influential narratives, including misleading or unfounded allegations against President Biden, in through U.S. media organizations, U.S. officials, and prominent U.S. individuals, some of whom were close to former President Trump and his administration. “
Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that the report did not leave much to the imagination.
“It doesn’t take a lot of sophisticated analysis to find out who was manipulated by the Russians by these individuals (hopefully, again unknowingly),” Warner told Capitol Hill.
In some ways, the published information parallels the finding of Special Adviser Robert Mueller’s report, which showed that those around Trump used information evoked by the Russians in 2016, including stolen emails on Democratic servers. which damaged Clinton.
Mueller wrote that while he could not prove that Trump’s aides “conspired or coordinated” with Russia, the campaign “hoped he would benefit electorally from information stolen and published through Russian efforts.”
Here is another pattern. Either the gullible aides around Trump were alien to being manipulated by foreign agents, or they were unwilling to investigate where the misinformation came from. And these alternatives produce the best possible behavior.
The new report also found that Russia’s main effort in 2020 was based on an account that Biden and his family had corrupt ties with Ukraine. There has been no evidence of criminal activity by either the current president or his son Hunter, who worked on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.
But, incredibly, this misinformation from Russia ended up being the centerpiece of Trump’s campaign against Biden in the final days of the election. The report does not say so, but this material was personally used by Trump in many appearances in the campaign, an extraordinary marker of success for a foreign power plot intelligence operation.
The report also makes it clear that Derkach and another Russian-influenced agent, Konstantin Kilimnik, used conservative media networks set up in the United States to whitewash their deceptions and false information about Biden.
Putin, a former KGB agent who saw the end of the Soviet Union as one of the worst disasters in history, has long tried to damage the West by exploiting its own political and social divisions. The January 2017 U.S. intelligence assessment of meddling in previous elections found, for example, that the Russians wanted to “undermine the U.S.-led international liberal order.” And Mueller said Putin was motivated by a desire to “provoke and amplify political discord in the United States.”
The nature of these disinformation campaigns, which take place in the world of smoke and mirrors where espionage, fake news and misinformation are found, is that they continue to be carried out for months and years afterwards for a very modest investment. .
For example, Trump’s inevitable protests that he is once again the subject of a new “Russian farce” will further poison the reputation of US intelligence agencies, the sworn rivals of US intelligence services. Russia, among supporters of the former president.
Trump’s propaganda can also serve to further foster mistrust among his supporters with the U.S. political system itself, a feeling GOP state lawmakers exploit across the United States to justify voter suppression laws allegedly designed by restore “integrity” in the U.S. election.
From Georgia to Arizona and Texas to Iowa, Trump’s allies are trying to shorten early voting hours, limit Sunday voting – used disproportionately by black voters – and reclaim e-mail voting, which made it easier to vote further north. -Americans in 2020 in a record turnout of popular votes.