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Schiff: Congress could be target of foreign disinformation effort to influence 2020 election

The Intelligence Committee chairman and other top Democrats called on the FBI director to provide a counterintelligence briefing to Congress to address their concerns.
Rep. Adam Schiff (and fellow House Impeachment Managers hold a press conference at the Capitol on Jan. 28, 2020.
Rep. Adam Schiff (and fellow House Impeachment Managers hold a press conference at the Capitol on Jan. 28, 2020.Amanda Voisard / Reuters

WASHINGTON — House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., warned Tuesday that U.S. intelligence suggests multiple nations could be trying to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections, including possibly "laundering" disinformation through Congress.

In an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Schiff was asked if there’s information that other actors besides Russia are trying to get involved in the current election cycle.

“There is,” Schiff said, adding that different nations use different techniques or tactics. Some nations could use overt ways of influence, such as making public statements, or in the case of China, using trade negotiations with the U.S, he said.

“The Russians may get involved in hacking and dumping operations or social media campaigns. The Iranians may have their own tactics and techniques like the North Koreans may have theirs,” Schiff added.

The Intelligence Committee chairman's comments come after he and other top Democrats called on FBI Director Christopher Wray in a letter on Monday to provide a counterintelligence briefing to Congress before the August recess about efforts to interfere in the 2020 presidential election.

“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,” the letter said.

The letter was signed by Schiff, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Mark Warner, D-Va.

Schiff said on "Morning Joe" that he “can’t go into the underlying information” because it’s classified, but he said the potential interference is happening exactly four years after he and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., sent a letter warning about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“Now we have the same concern that, once again, a foreign power or foreign powers may be seeking, and they may be using some of the same modalities and they may be using new techniques, such as laundering information through Congress, with the intent of interfering and affecting our election,” he said.

Schiff said that members of Congress should be briefed and armed with information so that “they’re not manipulated or used to propagate Russian or other disinformation.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, said last week that he has received briefings about Russia again working to interfere in the current election.

“The Russians are still engaged in trying to delegitimize our electoral process. Fact,” he said. "China and others are engaged as well in activities that are designed for us to lose confidence in the outcome.”