“We have identified that foreign actors – Iran and Russia – have taken specific actions to influence public opinion relating to our elections,” said Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe.
In a press briefing, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and members of the intelligence community warned American citizens of emails targeting and threatening voters in an effort to sow doubt in election integrity, cause unrest, and ultimately influence the outcome of the election.
Both the Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and FBI Director Christopher Wray added that, even in the midst of such efforts, Americans can remain confident in the election process.
Statement from Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe
We would like to like to alert the public that we have identified that foreign actors – Iran and Russia – have taken specific actions to influence public opinion relating to our elections.
First, we have confirmed that some voter registration information has been obtained by Iran and separately by Russia. This data can be used by foreign actors to attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos, and undermine your confidence in American democracy.
To that end, we have already seen Iran sending spoofed emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump.
You may have seen some reporting on this in the last 24 hours or you have even been one of the recipients of those emails. Additionally, Iran is distributing other content to include a video that implies that individuals could cast fraudulent ballots, even from overseas. This video and any claims about such allegedly fraudulent ballots are not true. These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries. Even if the adversaries pursue further attempts to intimidate or attempt to undermine voter confidence, know that our election systems are resilient and you can be confident your votes are secure.
Although we have not seen the same actions from Russia, we are aware that they have obtained some voter information, just as they did in 2016. Rest assured that we are prepared for the possibility of actions by those hostile to democracy.
The great women and men of the intelligence community caught this activity immediately and our colleges at FBI and DHS acted swiftly in response to this threat. We are standing before you now to give you the confidence that we are on top of this and providing you with the most powerful weapon we have to combat these efforts: The truth. Information.
We ask every American to do their part to defend against those who wish us harm. The way you do that is quite simple: Do not allow these efforts to have their intended effect. If you receive an intimidating or manipulative email in your inbox, don’t be alarmed and do not spread it.
This is not a partisan issue.
I have had conversations today with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, and there is complete unanimity in the U.S. government in our resolve to combat the enemies of freedom.
The president has instructed me to keep the public informed as appropriate, and you have my commitment that I will continue to do exactly that with transparency and with candor.
We will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections, and we will continue to work with our many partners to disrupt and to impose costs and consequences on any adversarial that attempts to interfere in our democratic processes.
The efforts of the president to empower us to put toward election security over these last four years are working.
Statement from FBI Director Christopher Wray
The FBI is the primary agency responsible for investigating malicious cyber activity against election infrastructure, malign foreign influence operations, and election-related crimes, like voter fraud and voter suppression or intimidation.
And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.
At the FBI, we’re working closely with our intelligence community partners, as well as our other federal, state, and local partners, to share information, bolster security, and identify and disrupt any threats.
We’re not going to tolerate foreign interference in our elections or any criminal activity that threatens the sanctity of your vote or undermines public confidence in the outcome of the election.
When we see indications of foreign interference or federal election crimes, we’re going to aggressively investigate and work with our partners, to quickly take appropriate action.
We’re also coordinating with the private sector—both technology and social media companies—to make sure that their platforms are not used by foreign adversaries to spread disinformation and propaganda.
We’ve been working for years as a community to build resilience in our election infrastructure—and today that infrastructure remains resilient.
You should be confident that your vote counts.
Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.
We encourage everyone to seek election and voting information from reliable sources—namely, your state election officials. And to be thoughtful, careful, and discerning consumers of information online.
And if you suspect criminal activity, we ask that you report that information to your local FBI field office.
As always, the men and women of the FBI remain committed to protecting the American people, our democracy, and the integrity of our elections.
We are not going to let our guard down.
The press briefing comes following previous reports from the FBI that hackers penetrated election systems. Read about it here!
Election officials have stressed that the intrusions are largely meant to intimidate and disrupt, but that American voters should maintain confidence in our election process.
As the Lord Leads, Pray with Us…
- For God to be at work through the men and women of the intelligence community as they work to protect the integrity of the election.
- For God to thwart all efforts by foreign nations to interfere with the vote of the people.
- For Americans to see the truth in the midst of the attempts at confusion and chaos by foreign governments.