US intelligence agencies tell lawmakers Russia meddling in 2020 polls

The New York Times, which broke the news of the secret briefing, said Russia intended to interfere in the ongoing 2020 Democratic nominating contests — primaries and caucuses — and the general elections that are due in November.
US President Donald Trump bristles at any suggestion that his election was helped by Russians. President Trump has been only too willing to accept the denials issued by Russia.(HT FILE PHOTO.)
US President Donald Trump bristles at any suggestion that his election was helped by Russians. President Trump has been only too willing to accept the denials issued by Russia.(HT FILE PHOTO.)
Updated on Feb 21, 2020 07:45 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Washington | ByYashwant Raj

US intelligence officials told lawmakers in a confidential briefing last week that Russia is meddling in the 2020 campaign to ensure the re-election of President Donald Trump viewing his administration as favourable to Kremlin’s interests, according to multiple media reports.

Though no specifics were reported, but the New York Times, which broke the news of the secret briefing, said Russia intended to interfere in the ongoing 2020 Democratic nominating contests — primaries and caucuses — and the general elections that are due in November.

President Trump is said to have been angered by the hearing and berated the acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire for it, which possibly cost him the permanent job. Richard Grenell, the current US ambassador to Germany, has been named as the new acting DNI.

Trump was most upset reportedly about the presence at the hearing of House intelligence chairman, Adam Schiff, the Democrat who headed the impeachment inquiry leading to the president’s impeachment in December, and then acted as the lead House manager to urge the Senate to dismiss the president from office.

Shelby Preston, the intelligence official who briefed the lawmakers, is reported to have specifically said that Moscow has “developed a preference” for Trump.

Russia denied it was interfering in the US elections. “These are new paranoid reports, which, to our deep regret, will continue to grow in number as the election day approaches,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “Naturally, they have nothing to do with the truth.”

Russia has also denied it meddled in the 2016 elections, which was first alleged publicly by US intelligence agencies, and confirmed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller who pinned it on Russian military intelligence GRU and indicted several of its officials for it, who will never be tried probably.

President Trump, who has bristled at any suggestion his election was helped by Russians, has been only too willing to accept their denials most famously, favoured President Vladimir Putin’s denial over his own intelligence agencies at a joint new conference in Helsinki, Finland in 2017.

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