Ratcliffe, who appeared alongside FBI Director Chris Wray, told a news conference early Wednesday evening that Iran was responsible for the email campaign, which made it look like it came from the Proud Boys, as well as misrepresented voter fraud through a video link. In some emails.
“This data could be used by foreign actors to try to communicate false information to registered voters, which they believe will cause confusion, sow confusion and undermine your confidence in American democracy,” Ratcliffe said.
“We have already seen Iran sending spoof emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and hurt President (Donald) Trump,” Ratcliffe said. “You ‘ve seen some reporting on this in the last 24 hours, or you may be one of the recipients of those emails.”
Ratcliffe did not elaborate on what was meant by emails sent to registered voters from “[email protected]” and a warning to recipients to “vote for Trump or not.” – Intended to harm the President.
A group of Democrats and a group of former intelligence officials accused former Republican Congressman Ratcliffe of leading the intelligence community ahead of the election to help the Trump campaign, and Democrats on the Homeland Security Committee criticized him after the news conference.
Both Iran and Russia receive voter registration information
When asked about Ratcliffe’s comments that the emails were aimed at hurting Trump, an intelligence official told CNN: “The intelligence community assesses that Iran’s intentions are consistent with Bill Ivanina’s previous statements on the matter and that the announcement was made tonight regarding its current activities.”
Ivanina, the intelligence community’s top election security official, said in August that the goal was for Russia, Iran and China to intervene in the 2020 elections.
“The Iranians are closely following US politics and understand the background of the Proud Boys coming up in the recent presidential debate and know that sending emails they make will hurt the media. This violent Trump supporters are hurting Trump. Threatening the Democrats,” the official said.
A source familiar with the matter told CNN that the government estimated that some of the data obtained by the Iranians came from vendor and state systems, and not publicly available voter registration information. Last week, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned of a vulnerability in a warning, saying “the agency is aware of some instances where this action has unauthorized access to election support systems.”
There is concern that Russia will similarly access the data, but it is not clear what their intention is.
A county has told CNN that a foreign company does not have to hack into Florida’s electoral system to obtain registered voters’ email addresses. Kim Barton, Alachua County election supervisor in Florida, said that if voters included their email addresses when registering to vote, that information could be obtained through public record requests.
Before CNN asked about foreign involvement on Wednesday, Barton said he had learned nothing about the source of the emails.
“We are working with the state and other agencies to make our elections safer. We are doing our part,” Barton said.
A source in the Florida election office told CNN during a FBI briefing Wednesday that agents had received proud boy email threats about voting for Trump coming from one country – and that they were looking at them nationwide. The source said agents told them the emails were “not the work of a Florida man in his basement.”
Ratcliffe and Wray did not take any questions, but said they were ready to respond to foreign election interference.
“We are ready for the opportunity for the enemies of democracy to take action,” Ratcliffe said.
An intelligence official said the news conference was set up early because of early voting and millions of people were already voting, “so it’s important that they be vigilant.”
Some emails contain a link to a misinformation video
The U.S. government says Iran is also responsible for spreading false information about voter fraud through video linked in some emails.
“Sad but true, bad actors are continuing their attempts to undermine confidence in the election, now with a misleading video,” Chris Krebs, director of the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency, tweeted before the news conference.
Trump has often made baseless arguments about voter fraud and has previously refused to say whether he would allow a peaceful transfer of power if he loses an election, citing concerns about mail-in voting. Despite isolated incidents, voter fraud is not widespread in America.
CNN received a voter bullying email with a link to the video from a Florida voter living abroad and unwilling to be identified.
ProofPoint, a cybersecurity company, provided a video copy to CNN. Set to the instrumental version of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”, this video is a screen recording of a “tutorial” showing how someone who uses the Federal Voting Assistance Program casts a fraudulent ballot. The computer background has the Proud Boys logo.
But the video is misinformation.
F adoral right-in-absentee ballots are usually used as a backup if military and foreign voters do not receive their absentee ballots. The CISA’s election rumor control page reads, “It is very difficult to change elections using fraudulently submitted FWABs.” “There are security measures in place to detect such activities in election offices.”
William Adler of the Center for Democracy and Technology told CNN, “This video is very clearly intended to communicate that mail-in is full of voting fraud, which is not true.”
“You can’t print a bunch of ballots and send them in. You have to have identifying information,” Adler said, pointing to things like signatures. “There are those checks that make it difficult to fake places and a lot of FWABs.”
This link to the video hosted on the file hosting site OrangeDox.com ఆదేశ ordered the victims. Its CEO and co-founder Chad Brown said they removed it from the site after a news agency informed them.
“Arendodax does not condone the use of our Services in any way that may violate the law, including publishing or sharing content that is deceptive, defamatory, misleading, or infringes on privacy or violates the rights of others,” Brown told CNN in a statement.
Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tario denied sending the group emails.
The complete opposite of 2016
Andrew McCabe, a former deputy FBI director and CNN analyst, said the news conference would show how far the US government has come since the 2016 election, when Russia failed to respond strongly to foreign intervention ahead of the election. He said he wanted to know more about the intelligence that Iran intended to hurt Trump.
“That verdict should have a really positive analysis and I don’t think we got enough of that detail from the information we shared with the press this evening,” McCabe said.
Before the start of the press conference, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence – Sense. Florida Republicans Marco Rubio and Virginia Democrat Mark Warner have released a joint statement on foreign interference in the election.
“As we enter the final weeks leading up to the election, we urge every American – including members of the media – to be careful about believing or spreading unconfirmed, sensational claims about votes and voting,” the statement said. “State and local election officials consult regularly with federal law enforcement and cybersecurity experts, and work around the clock to ensure that all 2020 elections are safe, secure, and free from outside interference.”
Senator Angus King, an independent who works with Democrats, said in a statement that the results showed that American voters were being attacked.
“We are likely to face this challenge on November 3 and beyond – so similar updates are needed as a consequences warrant,” King said. “The American people need to be skeptical and careful about the information available to them, and should be doubly careful as election officials are targeted.”
The news conference came Wednesday evening, a day after election officials in Florida and Alaska contacted law enforcement because registered voters reportedly received threatening emails saying, “Vote for Trump or not!” The emails came from an address affiliated with a right-wing group, although an analyst who reviewed an email obtained by CNN said it was sent using a foreign Internet infrastructure.
Iran-backed emails targeted Democrats who said “we will come after you” if the parties do not switch and vote for Trump. This kind of message will suppress Biden’s vote and damage his status in key states such as Florida, emails were first identified this week.
Intel said the goal was to interfere in the elections in Russia, China and Iran
Iran, along with Russia and China, is one of three foreign adversaries seeking to intervene in the 2020 race in an unprecedented statement from the intelligence community’s top election security official Ivanina.
“We expect Iran to undermine American democratic institutions, President Trump and try to divide the country before the 2020 election. In this way, Iran’s efforts will focus on online influence, such as spreading misinformation and reuse on social media. Anti – U.S. content,” the entire intelligence service said. Statement issued on behalf of.
“Tehran’s motivation to carry out such activities is, to some extent, the continuing U.S. pressure on Iran to try to induce regime change due to President Trump’s re – election.”
In the same statement, the U.S. intelligence community assessed that “Russia is primarily using a variety of measures to bring down former Vice President Biden and see Russia as an anti-establishment.”
“This is in line with his role in the Obama administration’s policy on Ukraine and his public criticism of Moscow’s support for the anti – Putin opposition within Russia … Trump’s candidacy on social media and on Russian television, with some Kremlin-affiliated actors even trying to elevate the president,” it said.
This article has been updated with more details from the news conference, reaction and additional reporting.
CNN’s Jeff Jeleni, Donnie Osullivan and Kurt Devin contributed to the report.