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FBI: Russia expected to target US 2020 vote to sow 'discord'

  • Published at 02:22 pm April 27th, 2019
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FBI Director Christopher Wray addresses the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) April 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. Wray spoke on "the FBI's role in protecting the United States from today's global threats"AFP

FBI Director Christopher Wray said that while Russia sought to influence the 2016 presidential vote and 2018 mid-terms there has been no interference with election infrastructure

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Friday that he expects Russia to target the 2020 US presidential election with social media campaigns, fake news and propaganda in a bid to divide Americans and "pit us against each other."

Wray, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, said that as in the 2016 election, Russia also sought to influence the 2018 US mid-terms and he expects more of the same next year.

"What has continued pretty much unabated is the use of social media, fake news, propaganda, false personas etc to spin us up," he said.

Russia's intelligence agencies are seeking to "pit us against each other, sow divisiveness, discord, undermine Americans' faith in democracy," Wray said.

"That is not just an election cycle threat, it's pretty much a 365-days-a-year threat, and that has absolutely continued," Wray said.

"We're very much viewing 2018 as just kind of a dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020," he said.

Wray said that while Russia sought to influence the 2016 presidential vote and 2018 mid-terms there has been no interference with election infrastructure.

He also said social media companies had made great strides in cracking down on malign actors.

"I think those companies recognize that there's a need for them to take action so that their own platforms are not abused," Wray said.

"There were a lot of success stories in the mid-terms where some of these companies were taking action on their own... shutting down and kicking off accounts," he said.