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Democrats and Republicans concur that Russia is trying to obstruct the US presidential election, but the parties differ over the classified intelligence reports on Russia’s alleged aim. The disagreement echoes the two parties’ standpoints on Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election as their leaders privately argued about how much information members of the public should be aware of.
On Friday the intelligence community’s top election security official, William Evanina, released a clear statement on the matter.
Intellegence officials believe Moscow is trying to damage Mr Biden and that China and Iran are trying to disrupt current US President Donald Trump’s campaign.
In the statement, Mr Evanina wrote: “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’.
“Pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach is spreading claims about corruption – including through publicising leaked phone calls – to undermine former Vice President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party.
“Some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.”
But the top security official said China would “prefer” Mr Trump’s defeat and is “extending its influence efforts” ahead of the election.
He added that Iran aims to “undermine US democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country.”
On Thursday, speaking to CNN about the 2020 campaign, Sen Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said: “The intelligence services have come to very firm conclusions about what the Russians are up to and who is acting on behalf of the Russians.
“In the briefings that I’ve received, there’s no ambiguity about what the Russians’ intention is and there’s no ambiguity about what narratives they are pushing.
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“And there’s no ambiguity about the people they are using to push them.”
Republicans maintain the reports show Russia is aiming to create conflict in the US elections and that it is part of a larger array of international interference involving countries like China and Iran.
Asked by CNN about Moscow’s intentions, Republican Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said: “It’s pretty clear that foreign governments want to disrupt our elections.
“That the Iranians and Chinese don’t have much love for Trump.
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“The main thing is they are playing in our backyard – and that’s the big takeaway.”
Members of both the House and Senate have been briefed on the intelligence reports.
Sources have told CNN that the presidential campaigns have also been advised of intelligence indicating Russian interference attempts aimed specifically at Mr Biden.
But intelligence officials have avoided providing public indications that Moscow prefers one candidate over the other.
Intelligence and law enforcement officials familiar with the reports have shown dissatisfaction with some lawmakers’ attempts to politicise the intelligence.
The US intelligence community believes Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election was aimed at helping Mr Trump’s campaign while damaging his adversary, Hillary Clinton.
Russia’s former attempt to disrupt the election resulted in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Mr Trump has insisted that Russia did not play a role in his election.
However, some lawmakers told CNN on Thursday that information disclosed in recent meetings indicates international governments intended to help specific candidates.
Speaking on foreign interference overall, Sen Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said: “My impression is their pattern has been to seek to assist specific candidates.”
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