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Biden, citing briefings, says Russia again working to interfere with the election

Biden said that his concern about whether the public could trust the integrity of the outcome and access to voting is what “keeps me up at night.”
Image: Joe Biden
Joe Biden speaks at a "Build Back Better" Clean Energy event at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware on July 14, 2020.Olivier Douliery / AFP - Getty Images

Citing briefings he has received on the issue, former Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that Russia is again working to interfere in a U.S. election and expressed concern about foreign efforts to sow doubt about the outcome.

“We know from before and I guarantee you I know now because now I get briefings again," the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said during a fundraising event. "The Russians are still engaged in trying to delegitimize our electoral process. Fact.”

"China and others are engaged as well in activities that are designed for us to lose confidence in the outcome,” he said.

A campaign official later clarified that the briefing Biden received was from his own "team of experts.”

Typically, a presidential nominee begins receiving more comprehensive classified security briefings from U.S. intelligence officials closer to their nominating conventions. The Biden campaign, the official said, received a briefing about foreign interference that was also offered to the Trump campaign and to both national party committees.

U.S. officials said that Bill Evanina, the top counter intelligence official at the Director of National Intelligence, has been leading the election security briefings of the presidential campaigns. Former Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, a longtime Biden aide, continues to be his lead foreign policy adviser.

ODNI had no immediate response to Biden’s comments Friday night.

Intelligence officials and private analysts have long said that Russia, China and Iran all are waging English-language influence campaigns on social media — a low-grade political interference that never really stops.

But top officials say they have not seen the kind of concerted election interference campaign of the sort the Russians conducted in 2016.

In a Brookings talk Friday, Department of Homeland Security cyber security official Christopher Krebs said he hasn’t seen the kind of activity he saw at this point before the 2016 elections.

"Compared to where things were in 2016, we're not seeing that level of coordinated, determined cyberactivity from adversaries," Christopher Krebs, the Department of Homeland Security's top online security official.

Clint Watts, an expert on Russian disinformation at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, wrote this week that Russian English language propaganda outlets such as RT and Sputnik have sought to undermine confidence in the election.

“On the propaganda and disinformation front, (Russia) already ramped up predictions of widespread election rigging and fraud via mail-in balloting, building on the election rigging narratives they’ve promoted since the Iowa caucuses,” he said.

The Russians remain capable of massive disruption, Watts wrote, conjuring up election scenarios that have long concerned intelligence officials.At his fundraiser, Biden said that his concern about access to voting is what “keeps me up at night.”

At his fundraiser, Biden said that his concerns about access to voting, and whether the public could trust the integrity of the outcome, is what “keeps me up at night.”

“Our campaign has undertaken a historic effort in both the commitment to and the attempt to provide for significant help to beat back voter suppression and every attempt at election interference,” Biden said.

Marianna Sotomayor contributed.