(CNN)The US intelligence community’s top election security official said in a statement Friday that China “prefers” an outcome where President Donald Trump is not reelected in November and Russia is working to “denigrate” former Vice President Joe Biden’s White House bid.
“We assess that China prefers that President Trump — whom Beijing sees as unpredictable — does not win reelection,” said William R. Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, in a statement updating the election threat landscape heading into the November election.
“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.”
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.’ 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,” Evanina added.
Evanina also stated that Iran is seeking to “undermine US democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country.”
In essence, Evanina’s statement Friday afternoon put two of the biggest American adversaries on opposite sides of the election: Russia for Trump and China for Biden.
The statement from the top counterintelligence official is also the clearest the intelligence community has been in suggesting Russia prefers one candidate over the other in the 2020 race.
At a news conference at his Bedminster, New Jersey, country club on Friday night, Trump appeared reluctant to accept the intelligence community findings.
Asked if he believes the intelligence, the President replied, “It could be. I mean it could be, very much.”
“I think that the last person Russia wants to see in office is Donald Trump because nobody’s been tougher on Russia — ever,” Trump said, adding later, “the last thing that Russia wants, and China wants, and Iran wants is for Donald Trump to win.”
Asked what he would do in response, Trump didn’t offer a concrete action, saying, “Well, we’re going to look at it very closely.”
He continued his unfounded attacks against vote by mail, arguing that it’s the “biggest risk” to election security and easy for a foreign power to forge ballots. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud associated with vote by mail.
Evanina’s use of the word “denigrate” is also the term the intelligence community used in its 2017 assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an “influence campaign” aimed at harming Hillary Clinton. The intelligence community also concluded that Russia’s “clear preference” was Trump and aspired to help him, an assessment Trump has pushed back on.
Russia’s goals were to “denigrate” Clinton, the intelligence community’s 2017 report stated.
The prospect of interference in 2020 will further test US defenses against foreign meddling, which Trump has repeatedly downplayed as he has dismissed any suggestion that Kremlin influence played a role in his election.
— cnn news