United States Elections
Thursday, 22 October 2020 – 20:39
US National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe and FBI Director Christopher Wray accuse Russia and Iran of being behind the wave of emails received by voters in Florida and Alaska
Foreign interference? Use of alleged foreign interference for partisan purposes? With 12 days to go before the presidential elections in the United States, the intervention of hostile countries in the elections has once again caused controversy in that country. This time, however, it is the opposite of what has been debated since 2016. Now it is the Republicans who denounce the interference of third countries. Not from Russia, but from Iran. And it is the Democratic opposition that questions the veracity of these accusations. This controversy is thus an appetizer of what can happen after November 3, when the votes have been counted and there is a winner.
It all started on Wednesday night, at 7:30 p.m. in Washington. At that time, the National Director of Intelligence of the United States, John Ratcliffe, and that of the FBI, Christopher Wray, accused Russia and Iran of being behind the wave of emails received by voters from states like Florida and Alaska threatening them with retaliation if they vote for opposition candidate Joe Biden. They did so at a hastily announced joint appearance, and at an ungodly hour, when most Americans have already eaten.
Ratcliffe stated that both Russia and Iran have accessed information about American voters in the state of Florida, which can decide the elections, although he only accused Tehern of having intervened. For the national intelligence director, the whole operation is about “intimidating voters, causing tensions in society, and causing harm to President Trump.” The information used by the attackers to identify voters is apparently in the public domain.
For the Democratic opposition, however, this is just one more attempt by the Trump administration to confuse public opinion or even to protect far-right elements that support it in what in the United States is called “suppression of the vote.” . The argument is, in principle, simple: Donald Trump, a president who has unilaterally broken the agreement signed with other great powers and endorsed by the UN to lift sanctions on Iran, has launched a harsh economic blockade against that country, has assassinated the Iran’s ‘de facto’ military leader, Qasem Soleimani, and has fully aligned himself with the enemies of the Islamic Republic, that is, the Arab and Sunni countries of the Middle East, and Israel. With all that background, it is difficult to explain why Iran’s intelligence services may be interested in Trump being re-elected.
Added to that is the fact that emails ask for a vote for the president and they threatened those who endorse Biden, which questions the thesis that this entire operation has been organized to harm Trump. For the head of the Democratic opposition in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, “it gives the impression that this has been much more an operation to damage confidence in the elections than to a specific candidate.” US intelligence services have repeatedly insisted that this is Russia’s goal in that country and in the West as a whole: not so much to favor a political option but to create the impression that the democratic system is corrupt. Thus, in 2016, Moscow supported both Trump and left-wing Democratic groups online.. And he did so with remarkable success: the ‘patron saint’ of the US left, film director Michael Moore, attended and proselytized anti-racism demonstrations from St. Petersburg on Facebook. Russia denied any involvement in this campaign, as it did in 2016.
The fact that the emails to which Ratcliffe referred were signed by the ‘Proud Boys’ (‘Proud Boys’), further increases the doubts of the skeptics. The ‘Proud Boys’ are a neo-Nazi group that supports Trump, who in turn has refused to condemn them. In the first televised debate with Biden, when pressured by the moderator, Chris Wallace, to distance himself from that group, the most Trump ever said was: “Proud Boys: Stay out and stay tuned.” The president’s phrase was considered a gesture of support for the organization’s militants, who seemed to indicate that their action might be necessary in the future. Since then, members of the ‘Proud Boys’ have appeared at various marches wearing T-shirts with the caption ‘Stay out and stay tuned’.
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