US spies resurrect ‘Russiagate’ claims

America’s intelligence agencies have alleged for the third election in a row that Moscow favors Donald Trump

Russia is attempting to sway the US presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, American intelligence officials have claimed. Similar allegations by US spies over the last eight years have been proven false.

In a briefing to reporters on Wednesday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) alleged that the Kremlin has mounted a “whole-of-government” effort to turn public opinion against President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats. 

“We are beginning to see Russia target specific voter demographics, promote divisive narratives and denigrate specific politicians,” the ODNI stated. “Moscow seeks to shape electoral outcomes, undermine electoral integrity and amplify domestic divisions.”

The ODNI officials did not state exactly how Russia aims to achieve these goals, beyond spreading propaganda on social media and feeding anti-Democrat and anti-Ukraine narratives to “influential US voices.” The officials did not name any of the “specific politicians” or groups who were allegedly targeted, or any of the “influential US voices” supposedly involved in the campaign.

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Asked whether Russia was seeking to boost Trump’s chances of defeating Biden, one of the officials replied: “We have not observed a shift in Russia’s preferences for the presidential race from past elections, given the role the US is playing with regard to Ukraine and broader policy toward Russia.”

During the 2016 and 2020 elections, US intelligence agencies repeatedly claimed that Moscow was deploying hackers and using “information warfare” to swing the vote in favor of Trump. 

None of these claims have been proven true. The US’ 17 intelligence agencies issued a statement in January 2017 alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally “approved and directed” a cyber-warfare and influence campaign against Hillary Clinton, which was contradicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report two years later. 

In 2020, more than 50 “former intelligence officials” published a letter claiming that files on Hunter Biden’s laptop – which implicated the Biden family in multiple foreign corruption schemes – were fabricated by Russia. The laptop’s contents have since been proven genuine, and formed the basis for multiple Republican-led investigations into the president’s foreign dealings.

Putin has dismissed the idea that he backs a certain faction in US politics. “It is not about the personality of the leader,” he told American journalist Tucker Carlson in February. “It is about the elites’ mindset.” Several days later, however, Putin said that he would prefer to continue dealing with Biden, calling the incumbent US leader “a more experienced and predictable person,” and “a politician of the old sort.”