- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2019

The FBI has reached out to the campaigns of candidates running in the 2020 presidential race to help prepare them for possible counterintelligence threats, a report said Wednesday.

Citing an unnamed government official, CNN reported that the FBI is working with the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to prepare presidential campaigns and state election officials ahead of 2020.

Among the measures being taken by the FBI is to offer briefings to potential targets covering how to safeguard their computer systems and counter insider threats, the report said.

A spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee said its campaigns are being encouraged to arrange briefings with the FBI, and an official with the Republican National Committee confirmed that its technical staff has been already briefed by the agency, CNN reported.

President Trump’s reelection campaign has been invited to an FBI briefing and plans to participate, the report said.



The ODNI is working with the FBI and DHS to brief campaigns and election officials ahead of the 2020 elections, the ODNI confirmed to The Washington Times. Neither the FBI nor DHS immediately returned requests for comment.

Eighteen months until the 2020 elections, the briefings are being reportedly offered as potential targets hope to avoid falling prey to the sorts of threats witnessed during the 2016 presidential race when Russians infiltrated Democratic and Republican victims alike.

Hackers working on behalf of the Russian government breached DNC systems and other Democratic targets during the 2016 race and subsequently stole sensitive material later leaked online, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials concluded previously.

Maria Butina, a Russian gun rights activist, covertly infiltrated conservative groups for the purpose of advancing Russian interests, according to the Department of Justice. She was ordered last month to spend 1.5 years behind bars and is challenging that sentence in a federal appeals court as of Wednesday this week.

Russian hackers also breached election systems in two Florida counties in 2016 by compromising a private vendor used by both, Gov. Ron DeSantis revealed Tuesday.

William P. Barr, Mr. Trump’s attorney general, testified on Capitol Hill this month that he “absolutely” believes presidential candidates should receive regular counterintelligence briefings ahead of the 2020 race.

“The danger from countries like China, Russia and so forth is far more insidious than it has been in the past because of nontraditional collectors that they have operating in the United States, and I think most people are unaware of how pervasive it is and what the risk level is,” Mr. Barr said during a Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I think it actually should go far beyond even campaigns, where people involved in government have to be educated on this,” he said.

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