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Russian meddling efforts intensifying as US election nears

September 12, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The Russians are still meddling.

Over the past week there have been fresh warnings over Russian hackers targeting the 2020 election, the indictment of a Russian man stealing Americans' identities as part of election meddling, and sanctions against a Russian-linked politician for spreading disinformation.

The episodes are a stark reminder that Russian-linked election interference efforts -- along with the potential threat from countries like China and Iran -- are ramping back up with the November 3 election less than two months away, suggesting Moscow is still looking to duplicate its wildly successful 2016 meddling campaign.

In addition to new sanctions this week, the intelligence community's top election security official Bill Evanina publicly announced last month that Russia was actively working to denigrate Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

But those actions are playing out against a backdrop of President Donald Trump still refusing to accept that Russia is interfering to benefit his campaign -- and at the same time that Trump's key advisers are putting forward a misleading argument that the bigger election interference threat comes not from Russia but from China, which the intelligence community said prefers Biden but is not actively engaging in a meddling campaign.

Democrats' concerns that the White House is intentionally playing down the threat from Russia for Trump's benefit were exacerbated this week by a new whistleblower complaint alleging acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf instructed DHS officials to "cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference," and focus activities carried out by China and Iran.

The charges announced in federal court in Northern Virginia against Artem Mikhaylovich Lifshits, of St. Petersburg, Russia, were part of the US government's response against Russians the US says are involved in Moscow's election interference efforts.

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