China and Iran oppose President Donald Trump’s reelection while Russia is attempting to “undermine” presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, a U.S. intelligence official said Friday.
A report on election meddling — primarily relating to China, Iran and Russia — show that they would prefer different candidates in the election, William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center said in a news release. Evanina said he released the report for “better informing Americans so they can play a critical role in safeguarding our election.”
Evanina said “foreign states will continue to use covert and overt influence measures in their attempts to sway U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, shift U.S. policies, increase discord in the United States, and undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process” ahead of the election.
China “prefers” that Trump loses because Beijing sees him as “unpredictable,” and Evanina warns the country “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.”
Tensions have escalated between China and the U.S. during the pandemic, with Trump accusing China of possibly withholding information about the virus in the early days of the outbreak.
“I think they made a horrible mistake and they didn’t want to admit it. We wanted to go in. They didn’t want us there,” Trump said during a Fox News virtual town hall in May. “This virus should not have spread all over the world. They should have put it out.”
Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the U.S., criticized Trump on Aug. 5 for calling COVID-19 the “China Virus,” ABC News reported.
“It’s certainly wrong to have such stigma,” he said. “The virus, as defined by the World Health Organization, is COVID-19. And the WHO has ruled that the name of any such virus should not be linked with any particular place, people, or ethnic group. … This is an international rule I think all of us should follow.”
Russia is “using a range of measures” to “denigrate” Biden, who is viewed as “anti-Russia establishment,” Evanina said. Moscow criticized Biden when he was vice president.
U.S. intelligence agencies determined in 2017 Russian President Vladimir Putin orchestrated an “influence campaign” to help elect Trump and discredit former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
”Some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television,” the report says of the 2020 election.
Meanwhile, Iran is seeking to “undermine U.S. democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country” ahead of the election, according to Evanina. He said Iran will most likely focus on “spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-U.S. content” in an effort to oppose Trump.
Relations between U.S. and Iran are also fraught after the White House announced economic sanctions against Iran in January in reaction to a missile attack on Ain al-Assad air base in Iraq, NPR reported.
Iran also issued an arrest warrant for Trump in June over the drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, in January, according to CNN.
U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said Iran’s actions were a “political stunt,” CNN reported.
“It’s propaganda that we’re used to,” Hook said. “This has nothing to do with national security, international peace or promoting stability, so we see it for what it is — it’s a propaganda stunt that no one takes seriously and makes the Iranians look foolish,” he added.