Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden said Friday that he is receiving intelligence briefings and on that basis, he warned that adversarial state actors were trying to meddle in November’s presidential election.
Biden made the remarks during an online fundraiser for his campaign, during which he identified two countries by name that he said were trying to interfere in America’s democratic process.
“We know from before and I guarantee you I know now because now I get briefings again. The Russians are still engaged in trying to delegitimize our electoral process. Fact,” Biden said, adding, “China and others are engaged as well in activities that are designed for us to lose confidence in the outcome.”
The White House and National Security Council didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Biden’s statement. Reached by phone, a Biden spokesperson did not immediately provide further details.
Biden said earlier that, as of June 30, he was not receiving intelligence briefings, which he was privy to when he served as Vice President under Barack Obama. Traditionally, intelligence briefings are provided to major-party nominees once they win the primary. Biden is widely expected to shed the “presumptive” designation once he becomes the formal nominee at the Democratic convention in August.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), as the coordinating authority for the nation’s intelligence services, is leading the effort to mitigate foreign threats to America’s elections. The Washington Post recently reported that ODNI has, in recent weeks, begun briefing presidential campaigns and major national parties on these threats.
“The ODNI works across the intelligence community to ensure that our threat information is consistent and clearly communicated to a broad base of customers,” the agency said in a statement. “The IC continues to warn on our adversaries’ intent, capabilities, and operations that may affect our ability to defend against interference.”
In its most recent handout on foreign threats to U.S. elections, provided to members of Congress on March 10, ODNI said the list of foreign adversaries likely seeking to meddle goes beyond Russia.
“This is not a Russia-only problem. China, Iran, other countries like North Korea and Cuba, and non-state actors all have the opportunity, means, and potential motive to interfere in the 2020 elections as a way to achieve their goals,” ODNI said in the note.
“Some are trying to influence the public debate largely on social media in order to stoke discord in the United States, with the hope of swaying U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, shift U.S. policies, and undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process,” the agency warned.
Besides state actors, criminal or terrorist groups may also seek to interfere in the election, potentially using tools like ransomware to try and attack election operations, ODNI warned.
Speaking during the fundraising event, Biden cautioned that if Russia continued to meddle, there would be “a real price to pay” if he succeeds in his bid for the White House.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.