Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday evening held a joint announcement regarding a major attempt by two hostile powers to interfere in the November 3 general election.
“Iran and Russia have taken specific actions to influence public opinion related to our elections,” Ratcliffe said.
Ratcliffe advised that Iran and Russia have both separately obtained certain American voter registration information; there was no announcement regarding any hacking of information during the event, so it is expected that this information was of a public nature.
“This data can be used by foreign actors to attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos and undermine your confidence in American democracy,” the DNI explained.
Ratcliffe specified that Iran has already sent “spoofed emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President [Donald] Trump.”
The emails in question were of a threatening nature and sent to Democratic voters in places such as Brevard County, FL. The intended and actual effect was to get members of the media and people on social media to blame Trump supporters — and indirectly Trump himself — for the emails.
Media outlets, as well as Democratic campaign apparatus “The Lincoln Project,” amplified this anti-Trump Iranian disinformation, aiding in this attempt at foreign election interference.
In addition to supporting Democratic nominee Joe Biden, The Lincoln Project supports the reelection campaign of U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).
Ratcliffe in his Wednesday remarks stressed, “We are prepared for the possibility of actions by those hostile to democracy.”
He said that for “both sides of the aisle… there is complete unanimity in the U.S. government in our resolve to combat the enemies of freedom.”
FBI Director Wray, who spoke after Ratcliffe, said, “We are not going to tolerate foreign interference in our elections or any criminal activity that threatens the sanctity of your vote or undermines public confidence in the outcome of the election.”
“You should be confident that your vote counts,” he added.
Ratcliffe and Wray both emphasized that the integrity of the American elections system is intact and that each individual vote is secure.
The FBI director encouraged Americans to turn to state elections officials rather than third parties for official election information. You can visit the Alabama Secretary of State’s elections website here.
WATCH THE FULL ANNOUNCEMENT:
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn