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2020 US election influence attempt was from Russia, not China: US intelligence

The Russian, Chinese and Cuban Embassies in Washington did not immediately return messages seeking comment. The Iranian mission to the United Nations and the Venezuelan Ministry of Information also did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Moscow, Beijing and Tehran routinely deny allegations of cyberespionage and subterfuge.

The new report said Putin knew of and “probably directed” the election interference efforts. As an example, Putin “had purview over the activities of Andriy Derkach,” a Ukrainian lawmaker who played a prominent role in the effort and has ties to Russian intelligence, the report said.

Rudy Giuliani, pictured with Ukrainian official Andriy Derkach, who has been named as part of a Russia disinformation effort.

Rudy Giuliani, pictured with Ukrainian official Andriy Derkach, who has been named as part of a Russia disinformation effort.Credit:AP

“We assess Russian leaders preferred that former President Trump win re-election despite perceiving some of his administration’s policies as anti-Russia. We have high confidence in this assessment,” the report stated.

A key role was also played by a second man with Russian intelligence ties, Konstantin Kilimnik, according to the report. Kilimnik and Derkach met with and gave materials to Trump-linked people to push for formal investigations, and Derkach released four audio recordings to try to implicated Biden in corruption, it said.

That refers to conversations that right-wing figures in the United States cited as evidence that Biden tried to protect his son Hunter from a probe in Ukraine.

Konstantin Kilimnik, assessed by the FBI to have ties to Russian intelligence.

Konstantin Kilimnik, assessed by the FBI to have ties to Russian intelligence.

Kilimnik was an associate of Paul Manafort, who served as Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman. Trump last year pardoned Manafort for a criminal conviction that stemmed from Mueller’s investigation.

Russian agents also tried to “phish” employees of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, “likely in an attempt to gather information related to President Biden’s family,” it said. Hunter Biden had served on Burisma’s board.

As in the 2016 election, the Russian so-called troll factory formerly known as the Internet Research Agency pushed disparaging stories on social media about Biden and Democrats and complained about censorship by the tech companies, the report said. It also sought to exacerbate US divisions on racial justice issues, the report said.

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