Russia will try to influence 2024 election to boost a past preferred candidate, US officials say

Written by on July 9, 2024

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(WASHINGTON) — Russia will attempt to influence the 2024 presidential election in favor of a past preferred candidate, according to U.S. officials who briefed reporters on election threats on Tuesday

“We have not observed a shift in Russia’s preferences for the presidential race from past elections, given the role the U.S. is playing with regard to Ukraine and broader policy toward Russia,” according to an Office of the Director of National Intelligence official.

The official did not mention any specific candidate by name, despite reporters pressing for a name.

During the 2016 election, the intelligence community assessed Russia attempted to influence the U.S. election in favor of candidate Donald Trump.

Officials from a vast swath of federal agencies said that Russia is taking a “whole of government approach” to influence the election that includes the presidential race, congressional races and public opinion, according to officials.

“We anticipate them to increase their activities as we get closer to the election,” according to the ODNI official.

The Justice Department on Tuesday released information about a Russian influence campaign related to the Ukrainian war, which officials pointed to as an example of how the U.S. says Russia is hoping to influence the election.

Russia seeks to “undermine electoral integrity and amplify domestic divisions.”

“To accomplish this, Moscow is using a variety of approaches to bolster its messaging and lend an air of authenticity to its efforts,” the official said. “Russian influence actors are planning to overtly use social media to amplify narratives, to sway U.S. public opinion in U.S. swing states, and diminish U.S. support for Ukraine.”

The campaigns and candidates have been kept abreast of these efforts, according to officials.

China and Iran are also make up the “big three” of threat actors the intelligence community is focusing on.

“Russia is the preeminent threat. Iran is a chaos agent and China is holding in the presidential race,” the ODNI official said.

China, according to U.S. officials, is taking a wait-and-see approach and may not attempt to influence the outcome of the presidential race “but we are monitoring the possibility of down ballot influence activities,” as they did in 2022.

They are also focusing on their data collection on U.S. social media platforms.

Iran is seeking to sow “chaos” in the United States, official said.

“Iran seeks to stoke social divisions and undermine confidence in the US democratic institutions around the elections. Iran has demonstrated a long standing interest in exploiting U.S. political and social tensions for a variety of means, including social media. In particular, we are monitoring Iranian actors who are seeking to exacerbate tensions with Israel,” according to an ODNI official.

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