Thursday, August 13, 2020
Aug. 13, 2020

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Foreign threats loom ahead of U.S. presidential election

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NEW YORK — As the Nov. 3 presidential vote nears, there are fresh signs that the nation’s electoral system is again under attack from foreign adversaries.

Intelligence officials confirmed in recent days that foreign actors are actively seeking to compromise the private communications of “U.S. political campaigns, candidates and other political targets” while working to compromise the nation’s election infrastructure. Foreign entities are also aggressively spreading disinformation intended to sow voter confusion.

There is no evidence that America’s enemies have yet succeeded in penetrating campaigns or state election systems, but Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential campaign confirmed this week that it has faced multiple related threats. The former vice president’s team was reluctant to reveal specifics for fear of giving adversaries useful intelligence.

Because of such secrecy, at least in part, foreign interference largely remains an afterthought in the 2020 contest, even as Republicans and Democrats alike concede it poses a serious threat that could fundamentally reshape the election at any moment. Biden’s campaign is increasingly concerned that pro-Russian sources have already shared disinformation about Biden’s family with President Donald Trump’s campaign and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill designed to hurt the Democratic candidate in the days leading up to the election.

When asked directly, the Trump campaign refused to say whether it had accepted materials related to Biden from any foreign nationals. Trump was impeached last year after being caught pressuring Ukrainian leaders to produce damaging information about work Biden’s son did in the country, even though repeated allegations of corruption against the Bidens have been widely discredited.

A Biden spokesman said “absolutely not” when asked if the campaign had received material from foreign actors.

“Joe Biden has been demonstrating international leadership to protect the sovereignty of our democracy for years, whereas Donald Trump has actively encouraged attacks on our elections,” said Biden spokesman Andrew Bates.

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