China, Russia, Iran Didn’t Manipulate 2020 Presidential Election Results: DOJ and DHS

March 16, 2021 Updated: March 16, 2021

Several federal agencies on Tuesday found that there was no evidence of any foreign government interference or manipulation in the 2020 presidential election.

The Department of Justice, including the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security and its cybersecurity agency, said in a joint report (pdf) that they “have no evidence that any foreign government-affiliated actor prevented voting, changed votes, or disrupted the ability to tally votes or to transmit election results in a timely manner, altered any technical aspect of the voting process, or otherwise compromised the integrity of voter registration information of any ballots cast during 2020 federal elections.”

Also Tuesday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a separate report (pdf) with similar conclusions.

According to the DOJ and Homeland Security, there were several incidents on behalf of Chinese Communist Party- (CCP), Russian-, and Iranian-affiliated actors that were identified.

“Several such actors gathered at least some information they could have released in influence operations, but ultimately we did not see any such materials deployed, modified, or destroyed,” the report said, noting that it “is unclear if those actors sought these accesses to inform broader foreign policy interests or election-specific operations.”

Furthermore, the agencies investigated post-Nov. 3 election fraud-related claims asserting that Cuba, China, or Venezuela used election infrastructure or implemented a scheme to manipulate vote votes and found they were “not credible.”

“We have no evidence—not through intelligence collection on the foreign actors themselves, not through physical security and cybersecurity monitoring of voting systems across the country, not through post-election audits, and not through any other means—that a foreign government or other actors compromised election infrastructure to manipulate election results,” the DOJ and Homeland Security added.

Regarding Russia and Iran, there were campaigns that targeted critical infrastructure that did compromise the integrity of networks that managed some election functions. Ultimately, they did not materially impact voter data, the ability to vote, vote-counting, or the transmission of the election results, the agencies said.

And undisclosed claims made by the Iranian regime that attempted to “undermine the public’s confidence” in the U.S. election were either “false or inflated,” the report also found.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, meanwhile, concluded that no foreign state actor tried to manipulate voting data, voter registration, vote tabulation efforts, or the reporting results.

Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized “influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US,” the ODNI report says.

And Iran “carried out a multi-pronged covert influence campaign intended to undercut former President Trump’s reelection prospects—though without directly promoting his rivals—undermine public confidence in the electoral process and US institutions, and sow division and exacerbate societal tensions in the US,” according to the intelligence report.

The ODNI report, however, said that China did not attempt to interfere in the election, which appears to dispute Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe who confirmed in December 2020 that China did indeed meddle in the 2020 federal elections,

Ratcliffe alleged at the time that intelligence about China’s election interference was suppressed by management at the CIA, which pressured analysts to withdraw their support for the view.