Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said Wednesday both Iran and Russia have obtained US voter registration information in an effort to interfere in the election, including Iran posing as the far-right group Proud Boys to send intimidating emails to voters.
“This data can be used by foreign actors to attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos and undermine your confidence in American democracy,” Ratcliffe said.
Iranians are responsible for a voter intimidation email campaign that was made to look like it came from the Proud Boys and was also spreading disinformation about voter fraud through a video linked in some of the emails.
“We have already seen Iran sending spoof emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President (Donald) Trump,” Ratcliffe added. “You may have seen some reporting on this in the last 24 hours, or you may have even been one of the recipients of those emails.”
Ratcliffe did not explain what he meant by his statement that the emails — which were sent to registered voters from “email@example.com” and warned recipients to “Vote for Trump or else!” — were intended to damage the President.
There is still a lot we don’t know about the story including:
- Was the voter registration information “obtained” through phishing/hacking or were the materials bought either legally or from sites on the web?
- What did the Russians do with the data they obtained, if anything?
- Why did the DNI conclude that Iran’s actions would “hurt Trump”? The idea I suppose is that it would provoke a voter suppression story backfire and motivate Democrats. Is there evidence of this intention? Or perhaps it was motivated to deter Democrats from voting?
- Why hold a press conference at 7:30 pm at night on a hasty basis rather than wait for the next morning?