Democrats warn of foreign interference in election

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MARY CLARE JALONICK and ERIC TUCKER
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic leaders have issued a new warning that Congress appears to be the target of a foreign interference campaign.

The new alarms give a renewed urgency to concerns that foreign actors could be trying to influence the vote or sow disinformation. Presumptive Presidential nominee Joe Biden said last week that he had begun receiving intelligence briefings and warned that Russia, China and other adversaries were attempting to undermine the presidential election. Biden gave no evidence, but he said that Russia was “still engaged” after 2016 and that China was also involved in efforts to sow doubts in the American electoral process.

The Democratic leaders said in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday that they are concerned that Congress appears to be the target of a “concerted foreign interference campaign” to influence the 2020 presidential election. They asked Wray for an all-members, classified briefing on the matter before the August recess.

The letter from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and the top Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees contains no details about the threats, though they describe them as serious and specific.

“We are gravely concerned, in particular, that Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign interference campaign, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November,” wrote Pelosi, Schumer, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence panel.

A congressional official familiar with the letter said that there was a classified addendum “to ensure a clear and unambiguous record of the counterintelligence threats of concern.” The person, who was granted anonymity to describe the confidential letter, said the addendum largely draws from the executive branch’s own reporting and analysis.

The FBI said it had received the letter but declined further comment.

This story has been edited for conciseness.