On Foreign Meddling in American Elections
“Relax, Luther, it’s much worse than you think” – Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible
This week, the Intelligence Community (IC) released a declassified version of its report on foreign meddling in the 2020 election.
It should surprise no one that there was quite a bit of it; nor should that be an outrageous issue per se. Democracies certainly try to ensure smooth relations with each other no matter which political party is in power, but governments are people; people have preferences; and those preferences usually come to light.
In the case of Election 2020, however, we witnessed things far more sinister than Barack Obama’s attempt to convince the British to remain in the European Union four years ago. More unnervingly, the major 2016 bad-faith-meddler (the Kremlin) had some company.
The Putinist regime was still the leading tyranny using subterfuge and misinformation to tip the scales; the IC spells it out in detail. Among their findings…
- Putin himself was watching over Andriy Derkach, the pro-Russian Ukrainian legislator who was using Rudy Giuliani to pump lies about the Bidens into the American bloodstream
- Konstanin Kilimnik, Paul Manafort’s old partner-in-espionage, was part of the game
- “Trump administration-liked U.S. persons” were cooperating with them, accepting materials from “Kilimnik, Derkach, and their associates”
- … and this was all done because, “Russian leaders preferred that former President Trump win reelection.”
In other words, just about every personal claim against the Biden family was driven by Kremlin misinformation which was spread so far and wide that it got into certain cable news networks and the usual social media channels.
As harrowing as all that is … that isn’t all. As the rest of the world watched the Kremlin suffer nominal consequences (at best) for meddling in our election, other tyrants and crooks got into the game.
- The Iranian regime – caught between one ally who supported Trump (Moscow) and one who didn’t (Beijing) – went with the latter and “carried out an influence campaign … intended to undercut the reelection prospects of former President Trump” – although not as extensively as Moscow leaned in to support Trump and “not actively promoting his rivals.”
- The Chinese Communist Party certainly planned efforts to meddle in our election – and according to the National Intelligence Officer for Cyber, actually followed through on some of those plans.
- The Communist regime in Cuba and Hezbollah also got in on the fun, while the Venezuelan regime “had the intent, though probably not the capability” to do the same
As noted, Trump was not the beneficiary of these efforts, but his refusal to punish Russia for helping him in 2016 encouraged these tyrants and terrorists to act in 2020.
Ensuring this kind of thing is countered this November – to say nothing of future years – must be a priority for the Biden Administration. These events show that tyrannies are incompatible with democracies in our ever smaller world.