The U.S. government is investigating whether Russia is targeting Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in the run-up to the 2020 elections, Bloomberg reports.
The probe reportedly focuses on whether Russia’s continuing U.S. disinformation efforts are aimed at damaging Biden’s candidacy. That investigation at least partly focuses on whether the allegations against Biden regarding his work on the Ukraine crisis as vice president were spawned by Russian intelligence.
Many of those allegations have been spurred by President Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who traveled to Kyiv in December to speak with Ukrainians who were propagating the accusations. Bloomberg’s report suggests that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are looking into whether the allegations were created and propagated by the Russian government.
The effort to coerce the Ukrainian government into releasing dirt that would support the allegations led to President Trump’s impeachment. He is currently awaiting trial in the Senate.
There have long been suggestions that the allegations against Biden which spurred the third impeachment in U.S. history were the product of Russian intelligence. Former National Security Council Russia specialist Fiona Hill told lawmakers as much during her deposition in November, while Bob Woodward made a similar claim in his 2018 book Fear: Trump in the White House.
Bloomberg cited director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center William Evanina in the story as saying that Russia plans to ramp up its social media-based disinformation campaign for the 2020 election.
“In America, they’re using social media and many other tools to inflame social divisions, promote conspiracy theories and sow distrust in our democracy and elections,” Evanina told the outlet in a statement. “As we look ahead to 2020, one thing I can guarantee is they’ll keep up their influence campaigns and utilize new vectors of disinformation.”