Russia Targets Biden Campaign With Disinformation

After Russian interference in the 2016 election, is the U.S. better prepared to handle foreign meddling this November?

What Happened:

With the election less than 100 days away, the U.S. intelligence community recently weighed in on the risk of foreign interference. A press release from the National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director, William Evanina, disclosed that Russian and Ukrainian actors are actively working to “denigrate former Vice President Biden”. These tactics include leaked phone calls and outwardly promoting Trump on social media and Russian television networks. 

Evanina also outlined the preferences and strategies of Iran and China heading into the 2020 election. Both countries have had an adversarial relationship with TrumpIran is wary of pressure to spark a regime change, while China has faced continued criticism for COVID-19 and ongoing economic conflict

The fact that China and Iran do not support Trump’s reelection has been touted by Republicans as evidence that neither presidential candidate is disproportionately benefiting from foreign interference. 

Why it Matters:

Election Legitimacy

In 2016, actors with ties to the Kremlin targeted state voter databases and successfully hacked Clinton campaign staff emails. These are just two leading examples of a comprehensive effort  to influence the election results and erode the legitimacy of elections in the U.S. It also poses risk to suppressing voter turnout through misinformation that reduces confidence in candidates and the overall electoral process.

Hunter Biden Probe

Under President Obama, Biden was heavily involved in foreign policy decisions to support Ukraine against Russian intervention and influence. The Trump administration continues to push an unsubstantiated claim that Biden attempted to oust a Ukrainian prosecutor as Vice President to protect his son, Hunter, who worked for a prominent Ukrainian gas company. 

Currently, a Senate Republican probe into Hunter Biden and the former Vice President’s work in Ukraine is underway. Their motivations and credibility are questionable at best, as the CIA has expressed skepticism of the probe and its sources. Moving forward, expect Senate Republicans and Russian actors to continue pushing this narrative to diminish Biden’s credibility.