FBI director Christopher Wray on Thursday described “very active” efforts by Russians to exert influence on the November presidential election, with a meddling campaign focused on denigrating Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
During his testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee, Wray said that “the intelligence community consensus is that Russia continues to try to influence our elections,” which he said differs from interference efforts during the 2016 presidential election involving the hack of Democrats’ emails and state election systems.
Wray pointed out that Russian influence in the November election thus far appears to zero in on misinformation campaigns.
“We certainly have seen very active, very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020 through what I would call more than malign foreign influence,” Wray said, which he stated is being carried out by Russians through social media, use of proxies, state media and online journals.
Wray added that Russian influence in the November election appears to be an effort to “sow divisiveness and discord” and “primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment.”
Wray’s remarks come as Trump and several other top administration downplay reports that Russia is working to help him win re-election, and instead stoke a theory that China is meddling in the November election to assist Biden.
Earlier this month, ABC News reported the Department of Homeland Security intervened to stop the release of an intelligence bulletin that detailed a Russian scheme to attack Biden by painting him to be in poor mental health — a claim that Trump has repeatedly lobbed at the former VP.
The next day, ABC News reported on another DHS bulletin showing Russia boosting the same disinformation as Trump on voting by mail, which the President continues to baselessly claim leads to voter fraud.
Last month, national security adviser Robert O’Brien dismissed the notion of imposing additional sanctions against Russia even after the DNI warned for the first time that the country detailed a campaign to “denigrate” Biden in the November election.
Watch Wray’s remarks below:
FBI Director Wray: "We certainly have seen very active, very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020…to both sow divisiveness and discord and…to denigrate Vice President Biden."
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 17, 2020