Biden, lawmakers warn of foreign interference in election

Biden, lawmakers warn of foreign interference in election

Biden, lawmakers warn of foreign interference in election

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Monday that he is putting Russia and other foreign governments “on notice” that he would act aggressively as president to counter any interference in U.S. elections. The statement came hours after Democratic leaders issued a new warning that Congress appears to be the target of a foreign interference campaign.

Biden said in a statement that he would treat foreign interference as an “an adversarial act that significantly affects the relationship between the United States and the interfering nation’s government.” He criticized President Donald Trump for not doing enough in response to U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

“If any foreign power recklessly chooses to interfere in our democracy, I will not hesitate to respond as president to impose substantial and lasting costs,” Biden said.

The new alarms give a renewed urgency to concerns that foreign actors could be trying to influence the vote or sow disinformation. Biden said last week that he had begun receiving intelligence briefings and warned that Russia, China and other adversaries were attempting to undermine the presidential election. Biden gave no evidence, but he said that Russia was “still engaged” after 2016 and that China was also involved in efforts to sow doubts in the American electoral process.

During an online fundraiser Monday night, Biden added: “It’s going to be tough, there’s not much I can do about it now except talk about it, and expose it, but it is a serious concern. It is truly a violation of our sovereignty.”

And in an interview on MSNBC, Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin “knows I mean what I say.”

The Democratic leaders said in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday that they are concerned that Congress appears to be the target of a “concerted foreign interference campaign” to influence the 2020 presidential election. They asked Wray for an all-members, classified briefing on the matter before the August recess.

The letter from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and the top Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees contains no details about the threats, though they describe them as serious and specific.

“We are gravely concerned, in particular, that Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign interference campaign, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November,” wrote Pelosi, Schumer, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence panel.

A congressional official familiar with the letter said that there was a classified addendum “to ensure a clear and unambiguous record of the counterintelligence threats of concern.” The person, who was granted anonymity to describe the confidential letter, said the addendum largely draws from the executive branch’s own reporting and analysis.

The FBI said it had received the letter but declined further comment.

While the Democrats’ exact concerns were unclear, there have been worries since Trump was elected that Russia’s efforts to sow American chaos are ongoing in the 2020 election. The 2016 effort included hacking of Democratic email accounts during the campaign by Russian military intelligence officials and the subsequent disclosure by WikiLeaks.

Intelligence authorities said that hack-and-leak operation was aimed at helping Trump’s presidential campaign and harming that of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Russians also used a covert social media campaign to spread misinformation and posts aimed at dividing American public opinion. In the end, former special counsel Robert Mueller charged 25 Russian nationals for their roles in foreign interference and influence during the campaign.

Democrats, including members of the Senate intelligence panel, have voiced concerns that an ongoing Republican probe into Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and his work in Ukraine would amplify Russian disinformation. That probe is being led by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

In a statement, Johnson spokesman Austin Altenburg said the committee’s staff had already requested and received a briefing on Russian disinformation and Johnson had requested an additional briefing at the member level.

While Biden criticized Trump for not acting more aggressively against Russia, his pledge that his intelligence community would report “publicly and in a timely manner” on any foreign efforts to interfere in an American election also appeared to be a course correction of sorts to the approach of the Obama administration, which waited months after Russian hacks of Democratic email accounts in 2016 to officially attribute them to Moscow.

Officials did so only after a rigorous internal debate over what they should say. Even when the administration did issue its October 2016 statement blaming Russia for the hacks, it did not mention Putin by name nor an ongoing effort to determine whether the Kremlin’s election interference efforts were being co-ordinated with the Trump campaign.

Hillary Clinton, who lost the 2016 presidential election to Trump, said Monday she was “glad” Biden was speaking up. “It’s very clear that Russia succeeded,” she told MSNBC. “They believed that they were able to influence the minds and even the votes of Americans, so why would they stop?”

Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press

election

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Biden, lawmakers warn of foreign interference in election

Just Posted

Police have charged two men after they allegedly tried to break into the Bentley post office with a semi. (Photo courtesy of RCMP)
Red Deer men charged in Bentley post office destruction

Police have charged a pair of Red Deer men after an attempted… Continue reading

Red Deer Fire Chief Ken McMullen remains concerned about “inconsistencies” in the province’s new way of dispatching local ambulances. (Advocate file photo).
A few glitches are already noticed in Red Deer’s new ambulance dispatch system

Local fire-medics need more data about ambulance arrival times

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported Tuesday that province’s COVID-19 test positivity rate is 4.4 per cent . (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
14 new deaths, 366 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta

Province nearing 100K COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Cervus Equipment is planning to set up a new location near Highways 2 and 42 in Red Deer County. Graphic contributed
Cervus Equipment eyeing new Red Deer County location

Farm equipment busy looking to set up near Highways 2 and 42

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Calgary company begins clinical trials for Canadian-made COVID vaccine candidate

Calgary company begins clinical trials for Canadian-made COVID vaccine candidate

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen addresses European lawmakers during the presentation of the program of activities of the Portuguese Presidency on a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Francisco Seco, Pool
Canada seeking reassurance as Europe mulls export controls on COVID-19 vaccines

Canada seeking reassurance as Europe mulls export controls on COVID-19 vaccines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic outside his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Cancel travel plans, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urges Canadians

Cancel travel plans, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urges Canadians

The corporate logo of Enerplus Corp., Calgary-based oil and gas producer, is shown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Calgary’s Enerplus announces US$465M takeover as court rules against N.D. pipeline

Calgary’s Enerplus announces US$465M takeover as court rules against N.D. pipeline

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney answers questions after announcing $43 million in repairs and improvements to provincial parks at a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Members of Kenney’s caucus have refused an Opposition NDP bid to make public details of Alberta’s $7.5-billion investment in the failed Keystone XL pipeline project.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Members of Kenney’s UCP caucus nix NDP bid to seek details of failed Keystone XL deal

Members of Kenney’s UCP caucus nix NDP bid to seek details of failed Keystone XL deal

The Nutrien Ltd. (TSX:NTR) corporate logo is seen in this undated handout photo. Canadian fertilizer giant Nutrien Ltd. says it will expand a proximity alarm and contact tracing technology to help protect 14,500 of its employees from the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Nutrien MANDATORY CREDIT
Fertilizer giant Nutrien expands use of proximity alarms to battle COVID-19 pandemic

Fertilizer giant Nutrien expands use of proximity alarms to battle COVID-19 pandemic

Conservative MP Tracy Gray rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. The Opposition Conservatives are urging the federal government to push back on President Joe Biden's protectionist Buy American plan.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
If Canada can survive four years of Trump, it can navigate the new Buy American: PM

If Canada can survive four years of Trump, it can navigate the new Buy American: PM

A street sign along Bay Street in Toronto's financial district is shown in Toronto on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Energy, technology lead S&P/TSX composite to largest daily decline since mid-December

Energy, technology lead S&P/TSX composite to largest daily decline since mid-December

Most Read