While Russian President Vladimir Putin directed his government agencies to conduct influence operations aimed at hurting then Democratic President candidate Joe Biden and helping former President Donald Trump during the 2020 U.S. presidential elections, the U.S. intelligence community didn’t see a sustained effort by Russia to compromise U.S. electoral processes and found no evidence that any foreign government interfered with the technical aspects of the nation’s voting processes, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said Tuesday in an unclassified report.
A separate unclassified report by the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice issued on Tuesday concurred with the intelligence community.
DHS and DoJ said “We…have no evidence that any foreign government-affiliated actor prevented voting, changed votes, or disrupted the ability to tally votes or to transmit election results in a timely manner; altered any technical aspect of the voting process; or otherwise compromised the integrity of voter registration information of any ballots cast during 2020 federal elections.”
The DHS and DoJ report found that Russian and Iranian efforts did “compromise the security of several networks that managed some election functions, but they did not materially affect the integrity of voter data, the ability to vote, the tabulation of votes, or the timely transmission of election results.”
The intelligence community’s report on the foreign threats to U.S. elections said there were “some successful compromises of state and local government networks prior to Election Day” and even more unsuccessful attempts at compromise but that these efforts were not aimed at “altering election processes.”
The “key judgments” of the intelligence community’s analysis include that Russia’s focus was on influencing the outcome of the presidential election by making “misleading or unsubstantiated allegations against” Biden. It also said that Iran also conducted a “covert influence campaign” aimed at damaging Trump, sowing divisions within the U.S., and to “undermine public confidence in the electoral process and US institutions.”
China, which wants stable relations with the U.S., did not interfere in the elections but “did take some steps to try to undermine former President Trump’s reelection,” the intelligence community said.
DHS and DoJ said in their findings that in the instances of Russian, China and Iran compromising networks related to U.S. political organizations and campaigns, any information gathered wasn’t “deployed, modified, or destroyed.”
Smaller scale efforts to influence the elections were undertaken by Lebanese Hizballah, Cuba and Venezuela, and cyber criminals, likely financially motivated, “disrupted some election preparations,” the intelligence community said.
The report by the intelligence community is an unclassified version of a classified report presented to Trump, senior executive branch officials, congressional leadership and the leadership of the congressional intelligence committees on Jan. 7. The reports were prepared at the direction of a Sept. 2018 executive order by Trump requiring the intelligence community to assess and report on foreign interference in U.S. elections.
“Foreign malign influence is an enduring challenge facing our country,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, said in a statement. “These efforts by U.S. adversaries seek to exacerbate divisions and undermine confidence in our democratic institutions. Addressing this challenge requires a whole-of-government approach grounded in an accurate understanding of the problem, which the intelligence community, through assessments such as this one, endeavors to provide.”