Russia and China intend to interfere in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to U.S. intelligence officials, reported in the annual public survey of national security threats released Tuesday.
NBC News said U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that both countries have learned from Russia’s activity during the 2016 election, which continues under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
"We assess that foreign actors will view the 2020 U.S. elections as an opportunity to advance their interests," Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, told the Senate intelligence committee at the worldwide threats hearing.
On political interference, the written assessment added that intelligence analysts expect American adversaries "to refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other's experiences, suggesting the threat landscape could look very different in 2020 and future elections."
The report gave prominence to social media manipulation and cyberattacks related to political interference, mentioned second only to cybersecurity threats in general.
"Russia's social media efforts will continue to focus on aggravating social and racial tensions, undermining trust in authorities, and criticizing perceived anti-Russia politicians," says the written threats assessment. "Moscow may employ additional influence toolkits — such as spreading disinformation, conducting hack-and- leak operations, or manipulating data — in a more targeted fashion to influence U.S. policy, actions and elections."
And Moscow has found a new partner in China, according to the assessment: “China and Russia are more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s, and the relationship is likely to strengthen in the coming year as some of their interests and threat perceptions converge, particularly regarding perceived U.S. unilateralism and interventionism and Western promotion of democratic values and human rights.”