President Trump on Friday said the U.S. will be “very careful” after the intelligence community warned that China, Russia and Iran are seeking to interfere in the 2020 election.
“Well, we’re going to look at it very closely,” Trump said when asked at a press conference in Bedminister, N.J., about what he intends to do after an assessment by the intelligence community was published.
“You’re telling me that this came out a little while ago, and I’ve heard that it came out. It came out just a little while ago, and we’re going to look at that very closely.”
INTEL COMMUNITY SAYS IRAN SEEKING TO ‘UNDERMINE’ TRUMP, RUSSIA WORKING TO ‘DENIGRATE’ BIDEN IN ELECTION
He spoke shortly after the intelligence community said that Iran wants to “undermine” President Trump while Russia is working to “primarily denigrate” former Vice President Joe Biden, and that China “prefers” that Trump “does not win reelection.”
When a reporter asked about Russia, which interfered in the 2016 election, Trump asked why they didn’t start by mentioning the threat posed by China.
“Do you think China may be a bigger threat? I mean, I think maybe it is. I mean, you’ll have to figure it out,” he said. “But we’re going to watch all of them. We have to be very careful.”
Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center Bill Evanina on Friday revealed additional information on those threats.
“Ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections, foreign states will continue to use covert and overt influence measures in their attempts to sway U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, shift U.S. policies, increase discord in the United States, and undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process,” Evanina said in a statement.
Bejing prefers a Trump loss because Chinese officials view him as unpredictable, and has been attempting to influence the election and shape policy by pressuring political figures who they view as opposed to Chinese interests, Evanina said.
Tensions have been high for months between China and the U.S., with the Trump administration sanctioning top Chinese officials connected to human rights abuses in Xinjiang and the crack down against political freedoms in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, Trump has criticized China for its handling of the outbreak of COVID-19, calling it the “Chinese virus.” He has also signed an executive order banning TikTok in 45 days over concerns that the app’s owner, ByteDance Ltd., could share user information with the government.
On Friday, he contrasted that with how he believes Biden would handle Beijing: “If China makes a deal with the United States with Biden in charge, they would own our country.”
Meanwhile, Evanina said the intelligence community assesses “that Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment.’”
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“This is consistent with Moscow’s public criticism of him when he was Vice President for his role in the Obama Administration’s policies on Ukraine and its support for the anti-Putin opposition inside Russia,” Evanina said.
As for Iran, the intelligence community said that it “seeks to undermine” democratic institutions, President Trump, and to “divide the country” in advance of the elections.
“Iran’s efforts along these lines probably will focus on online influence, such as spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-U.S. content,” Evanina said. “Tehran’s motivation to conduct such activities is, in part, driven by a perception that President Trump’s reelection would result in a continuation of U.S. pressure on Iran in an effort to foment regime change.”
Evanina, however, assured the public that the “IC is also doing everything in its power to combat both cyber and influence efforts targeting our electoral process.”
“Our election should be our own. Foreign efforts to influence or interfere with our elections are a direct threat to the fabric of our democracy,” he said.
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Trump appeared to dispute that assessment, saying: “I think that the last person Russia wants to see in office is Donald Trump because nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have, ever.”
He also said the foreign targeting of mail-in ballots was a threat to the integrity of the election, claiming it is “much easier for them to forge ballots and send them in.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.