Russia targeted people close to Trump in bid to influence 2020 election, U.S. intelligence says, in an apparent reference to Rudy Giuliani. The Office of the Director for National Intelligence released an unclassified version of a classified analysis of foreign influence in the 2020 election. More obvious is the continuity from 2016, with some of the same characters. It may have been a mistake for Trump to not grant Rudy a pardon.
Putin was directly controlling André Derkach, who was promoting anti-Biden disinformation
Aside from the main story of Putin’s return engagement, the report offers a broader study of foreign influence in the 2020 election, noting that Iran tried to use social media to undercut Trump and that China generally stayed out of the picture. But its key finding is that “Putin authorized and a range of Russian government organizations conducted influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.” According to the ODNI, Moscow did this by using “proxies linked to Russian intelligence to push influence narratives—including misleading or unsubstantiated allegations against President Biden—to US media organizations, US officials, and prominent US individuals, including some close to former President Trump and his administration,”
The report doesn’t name these dupes. But it’s clear who they are. Foremost among them is Giuliani, who as Trump’s personal lawyer sought dirt on Biden from sketchy sources in Ukraine and elsewhere. And a slew of rightwing media outlets, including Fox, OAN, Newsmax, and others, amplified and disseminated the anti-Biden swill Giuliani collected. The ODNI notes that Moscow’s “primary effort” in 2020 “revolved around a narrative—that Russian actors began spreading as early as 2014—that alleged corrupt ties between President Biden, his family and other US officials and Ukraine. Russian intelligence services relied on Ukraine-linked proxies and these proxies’ networks—including their US contacts—to spread this narrative to give Moscow plausible deniability of their involvement.” (One side aim of this clandestine project was to reduce Trump’s support of the Ukrainian government.).
“In late 2019, GRU cyber actors conducted a phishing campaign against subsidiaries of Burisma holdings, likely in an attempt to gather information related to President Biden’s family and Burisma.”