Trump Tries To Publicly Undermine Own FBI Director’s Findings On Russian Meddling

US President Donald Trump speaks to the press on the tarmac as he arrives at Sacramento McClellan Airport in McClellan Park, California on September 14, 2020. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMI... US President Donald Trump speaks to the press on the tarmac as he arrives at Sacramento McClellan Airport in McClellan Park, California on September 14, 2020. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
September 18, 2020 9:09 a.m.

President Donald Trump on Thursday night tried to publicly strong arm the assessment of his own FBI director while distracting from clear evidence about Russian interference in the upcoming election, by saying that China posed a “FAR greater threat than Russia, Russia, Russia.”

The President tweeted the remarks alongside a clip from testimony by FBI Director Christopher Wray who made clear to lawmakers on Thursday that Russia is waging “an effort to hurt Biden’s campaign.”

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Trump’s comments are the latest in his efforts to drum up support around a theory that China is meddling to get Biden elected, while downplaying well-documented history of Russia backing Trump that dates back to his first presidential bid in 2016.

Trump’s assessment makes mild acknowledgment of Russia, but strongly implicates China “plus others” as the most serious threat in a “Ballot Scam” to rig the election.

The tweet seeks to both cast doubt over the legitimacy of the electoral process while undermining a formal statement from the government’s counterintelligence chief, William Evanina last month that directly implicated Russia in 2020 election interference by saying it was actively working to denigrate Biden. 

Wray’s testimony reinforced those assessments.

“We certainly have seen very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020 through what I would call more than malign foreign influence,” Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee early Thursday, adding that Moscow’s primary goal was to “denigrate” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Last week, the President suggested in a tweet that China is interfering in the 2020 election and attempting to hurt his chances at a second-term by promoting race protests. At that time he shared a post written by a Breitbart columnist whose claims go against formal assessments made by the  intelligence community regarding threats posed by Beijing to date.

Attorney General Bill Barr who often backs the President’s outlandish claims, also made misleading claims about Russia’s meddling activity during a CNN interview earlier this month. When asked whether Russia, China or Iran, has been most assertive in interfering in the election, Barr advanced Trump’s claim saying, “I believe it’s China.”

During a CNN town hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania on Thursday, Biden pushed back on Trump’s messaging about the threats posed by China, saying that while he saw China as a “serious competitor,” he viewed Russia as “an opponent.”

Biden added that if he were president and the intelligence community found evidence of election interference from Moscow, Russia would “pay a price for it, and it’ll be an economic price.”

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