President Vladimir Putin of Russia authorized extensive efforts to interfere in the American presidential election to denigrate the candidacy of Joe Biden, including intelligence operations to influence people close to former President Donald Trump, according to a declassified intelligence report released today.
The report did not name those people but seemed to be a reference to the work of Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who relentlessly pushed allegations of corruption about Biden and his family involving Ukraine.
“Russian state and proxy actors who all serve the Kremlin’s interests worked to affect U.S. public perceptions in a consistent manner,” the report said.
The declassified report represented the most comprehensive intelligence assessment of foreign efforts to influence the 2020 vote. Besides Russia, Iran and other countries sought to influence the election, the report said. China considered efforts to influence the presidential vote, but ultimately concluded that any such operation would fail and most likely backfire, intelligence officials concluded.
A companion report by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security also rejected false allegations promoted by Trump’s allies in the weeks after the election that Venezuela or other foreign countries defrauded the election.
The reports, compiled by career officials, amounted to a repudiation of Trump, his allies and some of his top administration officials. They categorically dismissed allegations of foreign-fed voter fraud, cast doubt on Republican accusations of Chinese intervention on behalf of Democrats and undermined the allegations that Trump and his allies spread about the Biden family’s work in Ukraine.
The report also found that there were no efforts by Russia or other countries to change ballots themselves, unlike in 2016. Efforts by Russian hackers to probe state and local networks were unrelated to efforts by Moscow to influence the presidential vote.
Some of the information in the intelligence report was released in the months leading up to the election, reflecting an effort by the intelligence community to release more information about foreign operations during the campaign season after its reluctance to do so in 2016 helped misinformation spread.