Intel Officials Say Russia Boosting Trump Candidacy

FILE - In this June 28, 2019, file photo, President Donald Trump, right, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

WASHINGTON — Intelligence officials have warned lawmakers that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election campaign to help President Donald Trump get reelected, according to three officials familiar with the closed-door briefing.

The warning raises questions about the integrity of the presidential campaign and whether Trump’s administration is taking the proper steps to combat the kind of interference the U.S. saw in 2016.

The officials asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. They said Thursday that the briefing last week focused on Russia’s efforts to influence the 2020 election and sow discord in the American electorate.

The warning was first reported by The New York Times and The Washington Post. A senior administration official said the news infuriated Trump, who complained that Democrats would use the information against him. Over the course of his presidency, Trump has dismissed the intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s 2016 election interference as a conspiracy to undermine his victory. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted that, “American voters should decide American elections — not Vladimir Putin.” She added that all members of Congress “should condemn the President’s reported efforts to dismiss threats to the integrity of our democracy & to politicize our intel community.”

One day after the Feb. 13 briefing to the House Intelligence Committee, Trump berated the then-director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, and he announced this week that Maguire would be replaced by Richard Grenell, a Trump loyalist.

U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia interfered in the 2016 election through social media campaigns and stealing and distributing emails from Democratic accounts. They say Russia was trying to boost Trump’s campaign and add chaos to the American political process. Special counsel Robert Mueller concluded that Russian interference was “sweeping and systematic,” but he did not find a criminal conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Republican lawmakers who were in last week’s briefing by the DNI’s chief election official, Shelby Pierson, pushed back by noting that Trump has been tough on Russia, one of the officials said.

While Trump has imposed severe economic sanctions on Russia, he also has spoken warmly of Russian leader Vladimir Putin and withdrawn troops from areas, like Syria, where Moscow could fill the vacuum. He delayed military aid last year to Ukraine, a Russian adversary — a decision that was at the core of his impeachment proceedings.

The Times said Trump was angry that the House briefing was made before the panel’s chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, who led the impeachment proceedings.

Trump on Thursday formally appointed Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, to replace Maguire as the new acting director of national intelligence. Maguire was required to step down soon under federal law governing acting appointments. The Times cited two administration officials as saying the timing, after the intelligence briefing, was coincidental.

Grenell’s background is primarily in politics and media affairs. He lacks the extensive national security and military experience of Maguire, as well as previous holders of the position overseeing the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies.

His appointment does little to heal the president’s fraught relations with the intelligence community, which Trump has derided as part of a “deep state” of entrenched bureaucrats that seek to undermine his agenda. The administration has most notably feuded with the intelligence community over the Russian interference and the events surrounding Trump’s impeachment.

Pierson told NPR in an interview that aired last month that the Russians “are already engaging in influence operations relative to candidates going into 2020. But we do not have evidence at this time that our adversaries are directly looking at interfering with vote counts or the vote tallies.”

Pierson, appointed in July 2019 by then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, works with intelligence agencies like the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to identify anyone seeking to interfere with U.S. elections.

Pierson told NPR that the U.S. doesn’t know exactly what the Russians are planning, but she said it’s not just a Russia problem.

“We’re still also concerned about China, Iran, non-state actors, hacktivists and frankly — certainly for DHS and FBI – even Americans that might be looking to undermine confidence in the elections.”

At an open hearing this month, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the House Judiciary Committee that Russia was engaged in “information warfare” heading into the November election, but that law enforcement had not seen efforts to target America’s infrastructure. He said Russia is relying on a covert social media campaign to divide the American public.

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Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani, Deb Riechmann and Eric Tucker in Washington, and Zeke Miller in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

3 Comments

  1. Is this not the same corrupt traitors in the C.I.A and Intelligence Agency who fabricated the Russia Gate, Ukraingate, the War on terrorism fraud, the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, to invasion of the Ukraine by Russia and the now revealed lie ..that the were fighting Terrorism in Syria, when in fact they are the terrorist with Turkey attempting to impose another Regime change of an independent country of the world …Syria!

    An explosive situation is developing in Idlib province where the Syrian army is conducting a major offensive that has triggered a harsh response from Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is threatening to attack Syrian forces anywhere in the country if the Syrian government does not stop all military operations in the so-called Idlib Aside from the fact that Turkey has no legal right to occupy Syrian territory, Erdogan’s threat pits Turkey against Russia in a showdown that could quickly escalate into a full-blown conflagration.
    “I announce that we will strike the Syrian regime forces everywhere starting from today without being bound to Idlib or by the Sochi Memorandum, if our soldiers at the lookout posts or elsewhere suffer any harm,” said Erdogan addressing a meeting of his party’s members.
     Add to this toxic clash of interests the recent announcements by Washington and NATO that they support Erdogan’s efforts in Idlib, and the prospects for disaster increase exponentially. Here’s what neocon Mike Pompeo said

  2. Here’s what neocon and 5 time war criminal lucky luciano Mike Pompeo said yesterday…to the families of the Turkish invaders and terrorist, but not to the families of the Syrian soldiers defending their country!:

    “My condolences to the families of the soldiers killed in yesterday’s attack in Idlib. The ongoing assaults by the Assad regime and Russia must stop. I’ve sent (special US envoy to Syria) Jim Jeffrey to Ankara to coordinate steps to respond to this destabilizing attack. We stand by our NATO Ally #Turkey.

    The naked truth which reveals exactly the same lie that Nato Turkey, British, and U.S were obligated to take over Northern Cyprus, and ethnically and religiously cleanse Greek Cypriots from Northern Cyprus in order to protect the Turkish Population

    The naked truth which reveals exactly the same lies that traitors Mistotakis, Diamantaris, Ahepan Robert Menendez.have told Greeks to allow the turnover of Greek military bases to tyrant fascist U.S troops and bases in Greece!

    The naked Truth which reveals exactly why Turkey can fly over Greece ..uncontested!

    The naked truth which reveals.that Mike Pompeo..former C.I.A director..lied to the American public and the world that we were waging a war on terrorism..when in fact ..we have been the Terrorist!

    The naked Truth that Mistotakis and Diamataris and TNH with their Greek Secret Society of Ahepa Mason are U.S state department Fronts,who everyday lie.and conceal this information of the attrocities and

    1. and crimes against peace by Trump, Pompeo and their best gangster..the great leader of Turkey..Edrogan!

      Today, unreported by Diamantaris..Turkish religious jihadist launched a major offensive against Syrian government forces liberating towns in the Idlib Province with tanks, armored vehicles and weapons provided by Turkey and U.S..and were supported by Turkish howitzers shelling Syrian Orthodox Christian Soldiers of Syria ..if you are not aware!
      However….Russian airforce pilots responded to this offensive.and layed waste to a number of Turkish invaders and there terrorist..something the U.S and British did not do ..for the Greek Cypriots of Northern Cyprus!

      Obviously, the enemy of Nato Greece is Russia and Syria. all because Mistotakis and Diamantaris tell us the enemies of America and Turkey.are Greece”s enemies, not Turkey!

      Obviously, Greece should be supporting Russia and Syria against Turkish invasion.instead Mistotakis support and complies with an oil and gas embargo on Syria to weaken Syria to defend itself!

      Today. we await,will the blood lust of U.S and Turkey continue..leading to a possible war with Turkey by Russia ..and then watch Nato Greece support US launching of war crimes from Greece!

      My only hope ..is that Putin …not only responds with more warplanes ..but a massive destruction of all of the Turks and the terrorist Al Queda militias ..who everyone should be reminded ..are the ones who attacked America on 9/11, but now protect!.

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