The probe comes as senior U.S. officials are warning that Russia’s election interference in 2020 could be more brazen than in the 2016 presidential race or the 2018 midterm election.
…A signature trait of Russian President Vladimir Putin “is his ability to convince people of outright falsehoods,” said William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.
…Russia’s campaign interference in 2016 resulted in a multiagency investigation that led to a highly classified intelligence assessment, part of which was made public in January 2017. Trump has questioned the finding of Russian meddling and has asserted that government agents biased against him conducted a “witch hunt” into whether his campaign conspired with Russia.
The potential for Russia to spread falsehoods — and to develop increasingly sophisticated techniques to do so — is one of the bigger concerns that U.S. officials have as the 2020 election approaches, Demers said.”It’s possible that you will see the creation of false documents,” Demers said. “They could be mixed in with real information, which would make it very difficult to discern the difference. I worry about that as the next evolution of some of their means.”
…Russia has been openly promoting the controversy over Biden and Ukraine, feeding information back into the U.S. where there is an audience that’s receptive to it, Watts said.
Russia has been using its state-run media RT and Sputnik News to selectively promote favorable and unfavorable information about presidential candidates, according to an analysis by the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Foreign Influence Election 2020.
…Russia has a history of staging cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns in Ukraine, where it annexed Crimea in 2014 and backs armed separatists in the eastern part of the country.
The Justice Department exposed Russia’s interference in the 2016 election through public indictments of operatives who hacked Democratic organizations, leaked information damaging Clinton and used social media to sow divisions.