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election interference

U.S. intelligence assessment: Putin authorized influence operations to hurt Biden and support Trump

Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized influence operations that sought to damage President Biden's 2020 candidacy while supporting former President Donald Trump's, according to a U.S. intelligence assessment.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a declassified intelligence community assessment Tuesday about foreign threats in the 2020 presidential election. Putin, it said, "authorized, and a range of Russian government organizations conducted, influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden's candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the U.S."

The report additionally concludes that Iran carried out an influence campaign intended to undercut Trump's re-election campaign, but without "directly promoting his rivals," as authorized by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. However, China reportedly "considered but did not deploy" influence efforts after concluding that neither of the possible election outcomes was "advantageous enough" for it to be worth the risk.

Unlike during the 2016 election, there weren't "persistent Russian cyber efforts to gain access to election infrastructure" in 2020, the assessment said. And there was also no indication that foreign actors "attempted to alter any technical aspect of the voting process," including vote tabulation or the reporting of results, but the report added that Iran and Russia did spread false claims about alleged voting system compromises in hopes of undermining "public confidence" in the process and the results.