Both Iran and Russia have obtained U.S. voter information and are attempting to influence public opinion, U.S. Intelligence officials warned in a rare news conference on Wednesday night, Oct. 21.
The warning came from the Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who said the voter data information obtained by these countries “can be used by foreign actors to attempt to convey misinformation.”
U.S. officials have accused Iran of sending emails demanding voters vote for President Trump, with the emails claiming to be sent by the pro-Trump group known as the Proud Boys.
However, evidence points to it being Iran’s work, a nation that has clashed with President Trump during past years, reported The Washington Post.
Democratic voters in at least four battleground states, including Florida and Pennsylvania, have received threatening emails, reported Fox News.
Ratcliffe, the Trump-appointed director of National Intelligence, said that intel was “prepared for the possibility of actions by those hostile to democracy” and that the FBI and DHS had acted “swiftly in response to this threat.”
“Our duty also includes empowering the American people to understand information or perhaps more accurately disinformation that they are seeing, particularly on the internet, and make informed decisions for themselves,” he said.
“With that in mind, we would like to alert the public that … we have confirmed that some voter registration information has been obtained by Iran, and separately by Russia. This data can be used by foreign actors to attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos, and undermined your confidence in American democracy,” said Ratcliffe.
He continued, “We are standing before you now to give you the confidence that we are on top of this and providing you with the most powerful weapon we have to combat these efforts: the truth, information. We asked every American to do their part to defend against those who wish us harm. The way you do that is quite simple: Do not allow these efforts to have their intended effect. If you receive an intimidating or manipulative email in your inbox, do not be alarmed and do not spread it.”
According to Ratcliffe, interference from Iran is a deliberate attempt to stir social unrest and damage President Trump.
“Iran is distributing other content to include a video that implies that individuals could cast fraudulent ballots, even from overseas. This video and any claims about such allegedly fraudulent ballots are not true,” he said.
“These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries. Even if the adversaries pursue further attempts to intimidate or attempt to undermine voter confidence, know that our election systems are resilient, and you can be confident your votes are secure. Although we have not seen the same actions from Russia, we are aware that they have obtained some voter information just as they did in 2016. Rest assured that we are prepared for the possibility of actions by those hostile to democracy.”