Biden Vows To Treat Foreign Interference in U.S. Elections As ‘Adversarial Act’

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Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Monday said he is putting Russia and other foreign governments “on notice,” vowing if elected swift retaliation by treating foreign interference attempting to interfere in the U.S. elections as “adversarial act.”

“Today, I am putting the Kremlin and other foreign governments on notice,” Biden said in a lengthy statement. “If elected president, I will treat foreign interference in our election as an adversarial act that significantly affects the relationship between the United States and the interfering nation’s government.”

The statement from Biden comes as Congressional Democratic demanded FBI Director Christopher Wray to hold a classified counterintelligence briefing with lawmakers on foreign interference efforts before the August congressional recess. The letter from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) cited no details of any threats, but are concerned that members of Congress appear to be the target of “concerted foreign interference campaign” ahead of the November elections.

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“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,” the Democratic leaders wrote. “The counterintelligence experts at the FBI must provide the full Congress with a defensive counterintelligence briefing on these threats before the August recess.”

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“Given the seriousness and specificity of these threats, as members of congressional leadership and the congressional intelligence committees we believe it is imperative that the FBI provide a classified defensive briefing to all Members of Congress and that the briefing draw on all-source intelligence information and analysis, consistent with due regard for the protection of sensitive intelligence sources and methods,” the congressional official added.

Biden cited the foreign interference as an “assault on the American people,” vowing if elected to fully use his executive authority to “impose substantial and lasting costs” on state perpetrators along with actions such as “direct and resource” the Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the State Department and the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force to “develop plans” to isolate regimes seeking to “undermine democracies and civil liberties.”

“I will direct my administration to leverage all appropriate instruments of national power and make full use of my executive authority to impose substantial and lasting costs on state perpetrators,” Biden said. “These costs could include financial-sector sanctions, asset freezes, cyber responses, and the exposure of corruption. A range of other actions could also be taken, depending on the nature of the attack. I will direct our response at a time and in a manner of our choosing.”

The former Vice President criticized the Trump administration for failing to “make adequate use” by calling for further sanctions through a bill Congress passed in 2017 and specifically pointed to Trump’s remarks at a joint press with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July 2018, where the president “repeatedly denied that Russia interfered” in the 2016 elections. 

“The Trump administration has thus far failed to make adequate use of these authorities to counter and deter foreign election interference,” Biden stated. “In spite of President Trump’s failure to act, America’s adversaries must not misjudge the resolve of the American people to counter every effort by a foreign power to interfere in our democracy, whether by hacking voting systems and databases, laundering money into our political system, systematically spreading disinformation, or trying to sow doubt about the integrity of our elections.”

The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act passed both the House and Senate by an overwhelming bipartisan support, Trump called the bill despite signing it into law “seriously flawed” citing Congress “encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate” good deals and would cause China, Russia, and North Korea to team up together.

Biden revealed last week during a virtual fundraiser that he has begun received intelligence briefing on foreign election interference and warned with evidence that Russia, China, and other foreign adversaries are still engaging in activities seeking in “trying to delegitimize” the electoral process.

“I guarantee you I know now because now I get briefings again. The Russians are still engaged in trying to delegitimize our electoral process. Fact,” Biden said to a group of lawyers hosting the virtual fundraiser with 200 attendances. “China and others are engaged as well in activities that are designed for us to lose confidence in the outcome.”