U.S. Assessing If Russia Is Targeting Biden In 2020 Election Interference
Officials within the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement communities are investigating whether Russia is targeting Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election, Bloomberg News reports.
Two officials familiar with the matter told the news outlet that they are probing whether Russia is “trying to undermine Joe Biden in its ongoing disinformation efforts with the former vice president still the front-runner in the race to challenge President Donald Trump.”
Such interference would mark the second presidential election in a row that Russia worked to spread disinformation targeting Trump’s opponent in an effort to help him win.
In this case, the Kremlin is working with two Republican conspiracy theories: that Biden engaged in corruption in Ukraine as vice president in order to protect his son, Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company; and also that it was Ukraine that interfered in the 2016 election, not Russia.
William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said in a statement that the “ability to convince people of outright falsehoods” is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s signature trait.
“In America, they’re using social media and many other tools to inflame social divisions, promote conspiracy theories and sow distrust in our democracy and elections,” Evanina continued. “As we look ahead to 2020, one thing I can guarantee is they’ll keep up their influence campaigns and utilize new vectors of disinformation.”
Russia will likely have an easier time meddling in the 2020 election than it did in 2016, experts believe, because Trump and his allies are openly promoting the same narrative Russia is pushing.
“The difference is that you have Trump in the White House who is also leading that charge and also trying to dig up dirt in Ukraine,” said Clint Watts, a former FBI agent who has been tracking Russia’s foreign influence operations and is now a distinguished research fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.