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Russia preparing ‘perfect storm’ of 2020 interference, officials warn as Trump ‘guts’ election security funding

'Other state actors have seen the success of Russia and realize the value of disinformation operations,' officials warn

Chris Riotta
New York
Thursday 14 February 2019 15:36 GMT
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Russia is preparing an onslaught of disinformation operations ahead of the 2020 presidential election, US Department of Homeland Security officials have warned.

The assessment arrived as federal teams battling foreign interference campaigns have been dramatically downsized, according to a new report published by Daily Beast on Thursday.

The outlet spoke to three current and former officials from the Department of Homeland Security who provided a bleak outlook for US security against foreign impact on the upcoming national election.

“The clear assessment from the intelligence community is that 2020 is going to be the perfect storm,” said a source within the Department of Homeland Security.

“We know Russia is going to be engaged,” They added. “Other state actors have seen the success of Russia and realise the value of disinformation operations.”

The two government teams reportedly underwent major changes to their daily operations in the weeks following the 2018 midterms, going from reporting directly to the top echelons of the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) to an official in a much lower position.

One official said that move — the teams previously reported to Senate-confirmed CISA Director Chris Krebs — could potential threaten the teams’ ability to combat foreign adversaries throughout the election.

Moreover, the official said the shift “suggests their work is not a top priority for DHS political leadership,” the Daily Beast reported.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders previously defended Donald Trump and his White House administration’s response to election interference during a press briefing shortly after the 2018 election.

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“Since the beginning of his administration, President Trump has implemented a whole-of-government approach to safeguard our nation’s elections,” she said. “The President has made it clear that his administration will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections from any nation-state or other dangerous actor.”

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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