Manchurian Candidate v Siberian Nominee: US intel says Moscow against Biden, Beijing against Trump – Times of India

WASHINGTON: American voters face a choice between a Manchurian candidate and a Siberian nominee in the 2020 Presidential election, going by an expansive interpretation of official US intelligence assessment. In an extraordinary disclosure on Friday, a top US intelligence official said on record that China would prefer to see Donald Trump lose the election, while Russia is inimical to Joe Biden.
“We assess that China prefers that President Trump — whom Beijing sees as unpredictable — does not win reelection,” William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, in a statement on the election threat landscape heading into the November election. He added: “We assess that Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment.’
Iran too is seeking to “undermine US democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country,” Evanina said, adding, without naming any more countries, that “foreign states will continue to use covert and overt influence measures in their attempts to sway US voters’ preferences and perspectives, shift US policies, increase discord in the United States, and undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process.”
The official said information is being released “for the purpose of better informing Americans so they can play a critical role in safeguarding our election.”
Incidentally, India is among countries that steer clear of partisan US election campaign, having partly burned its hand after allegations that it funneled money into the election campaign in the 1990s. An Indian official had to be withdrawn from the embassy in Washington in 1996 after charges that he laundered $ 46000 to Congressional candidates sympathetic to India through an Indian-American lawyer, who was subsequently sentenced to three months in prison.
The latest intel evaluation, which cites only three countries publicly, is an expansion of previous assessments that pointed to Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election that brought Trump to the White House with Moscow’s preference for him over Hillary Clinton, whose campaign it undermined. Russia effectively denigrated Clinton, an intel assessment in 2017 said, paving way for Trump’s win.
Trump himself openly solicited Russia’s help from a public platform — in what was later described as a joke – leading to the widespread perception that he is a Russian stooge. The US President has been satirized as Moscow’s lackey in cartoons and comedy skits, including magazine covers that showed him morphing into Vladimir Putin and the White House transforming into Kremlin. Republicans say it was Democrats who first sought foreign help to derail Trump’s campaign.
The current assessment too did not appear to go down well with the US President, who claimed that not just China, but even Russia and Iran were against him. “I think that the last person Russia wants to see in office is Donald Trump because nobody’s been tougher on Russia — ever,” Trump said on Friday, adding later, “the last thing that Russia wants, and China wants, and Iran wants is for Donald Trump to win.”
“If Joe Biden was president, China would own our country,” Trump said on Friday, portraying his opponent as a Manchurian candidate, having himself been accused over the last four years of being a Siberian stooge. But even after such a direct and public disclosure of Russian interference by US officials, he was reluctant to affirm he believed in it, saying, “It could be. I mean it could be, very much.” Asked what he would do in response, he said, “Well, we’re going to look at it very closely.”
Instead, he trained his attack on the issue of mail-in ballots, arguing that it’s the “biggest risk” to election security and easy for a foreign power to forge ballots, even though there has been so such assessment or evidence to that effect.

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