At a press conference on Wednesday evening, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe told reporters that two foreign actors, Iran and Russia, have been identified as taking actions to interfere in the US elections. Ratcliffe claimed the two have obtained voter data (which the Florida Secretary of State notes is publicly available), and specifically blamed Iran for emails sent to Florida Democrats that claimed to be from “Proud Boys” and contained threats goading them to vote for Donald Trump.
"You should be confident that your vote counts. Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism," FBI Dir. Wray says. "If you suspect criminal activity, we ask that you report that information to your local FBI field office." pic.twitter.com/4ByGYiZzO3
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 22, 2020
Ratcliffe claimed this effort was an attempt to hurt Trump’s campaign, but did not specify how. The Washington Post reported that the right-wing Proud Boys group had been dropped by Google Cloud, and its domain was open to spoofing as a result.
Threatening emails like this -- purporting to be from the Proud Boys -- are being sent to voters in Florida and Alaska.
We do not know who is behind them, but whoever it is is taking a lot of steps to mask their identity. https://t.co/cB3RpocA5i pic.twitter.com/NjYti0ufbe
— Donie O'Sullivan (@donie) October 21, 2020
His statements echoed an earlier note signed by intelligence leaders, which said that “We assess that Iran seeks to undermine U.S. democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray also appeared at the press conference, and said “We’re not going to tolerate foreign interference in our elections or any criminal activity that threatens the sanctity of your vote or undermines public confidence in the outcome of the election. When we see indications of foreign interference or federal election crimes, we’re going to aggressively investigate and work with our partners, to quickly take appropriate action.”
“You should be confident that your vote counts...Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.”