- The Washington Times - Friday, August 7, 2020

China and Iran are rooting against President Trump while Russia targets his rival, the U.S. cautioned in its most direct warning yet about foreign interference in November’s race.

William Evanina, the Trump-appointed director of the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said each of the countries is seeking certain outcomes in the contest.

“We assess that China prefers that President Trump — whom Beijing sees as unpredictable — does not win reelection,” Mr. Evanina said. “China has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests and deflect and counter criticism of China.”

Russia, meanwhile, is actively trying to hurt the campaign of Mr. Trump’s rival, presumptive Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Mr. Evanina warned.

“We assess that Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment,’” Mr. Evanina said. “This is consistent with Moscow’s public criticism of him when he was vice president for his role in the Obama Administration’s policies on Ukraine and its support for the anti-Putin opposition inside Russia



Additionally, Mr. Evanina said the U.S. intelligence community assess Iran seeks to undermine U.S. democratic institutions and Mr. Trump and to divide the country ahead of Election Day.

“Tehran’s motivation to conduct such activities is, in part, driven by a perception that President Trump’s reelection would result in a continuation of U.S. pressure on Iran in an effort to foment regime change,” Mr. Evanina explained.

The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence released Mr. Evanina’s statement roughly two weeks since he issued a vaguer warning about foreign meddling in the election.

Leaders of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence subsequently welcomed his latest announcement and urged Americans to familiarize themselves with the threats facing the race.

“Everyone — from the voting public, local officials and members of Congress — needs to be aware of these threats,” acting Chairman Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, said in a joint statement. “And all of us should endeavor to prevent outside actors from being able to interfere in our elections, influence our politics and undermine confidence in our democratic institutions.

The U.S. intelligence community has previously assessed that Russians conducted a broad campaign intended to denigrate Mr. Trump’s opponent in the 2016 presidential race, former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Moscow has repeatedly denied responsibility.

More recently, Mr. Evanina warned that pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach has been spreading claims potentially damaging to Mr. Biden.

“Some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television,” Mr. Evanina added.

Tim Murtaugh, a communications director for Mr. Trump’s campaign, said it’s “concerning” China and Iran are against him winning a second term and speculated Democrats are involved.

“We don’t need or want foreign interference, and President Trump will beat Joe Biden fair and square,” Mr. Murtaugh said in a statement.

Spokespeople for the Biden campaign did not immediately return a message requesting comment.

Mr. Trump weighed in on the intelligence community’s assessment during a news conference later Friday evening.

“I think that the last person Russia wants to see in office is Donald Trump,” Mr. Trump told reporters in New Jersey, contrary to his intelligence community finding otherwise.

Iran would love to see me not be president,” Mr. Trump added. “The last thing that Russia wants and China wants and Iran wants would be for Donald Trump to win,” the president asserted.

Pressed about how his administration will respond to the efforts from China, Russia and Iran, Mr. Trump said, “We’re going to look at it very closely.”

Mr. Evanina, 53, previously served in both the FBI and CIA prior to being nominated to his current role by Mr. Trump in February. He was confirmed by the Senate in May.

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