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Russia interfering in 2024 election to help Trump, US intelligence officials say

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Officials with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) have warned that Russia has launched a plan to interfere in the 2024 election to bolster the chances of former President Trump being re-elected. 

In a briefing with reporters on Tuesday, ODNI officials said that Russia is the ‘preeminent threat’ to the election and that while China doesn’t plan to influence the outcome of the presidential race, the communist nation is being carefully monitored to see if it mingles in down-ballot races. 

‘It’s all the tactics we’ve seen before, primarily through social media, efforts using influential U.S. voices to amplify their narratives and other tactics,’ an official said. ‘And as far as who they’re targeting, what we can say today is, Russia is sophisticated enough to know that, targeting swing state voters is, particularly valuable to them.’

Officials said that the intelligence community expects Russia will increase its underhanded activities as U.S. election day gets closer in order to manipulate public opinion, underscoring the threat to America’s political landscape.

Although former President Trump was not named specifically, ODNI officials said that the Russian interference is mimicking what it says were similar preferences for U.S. presidential candidates seen in previous election cycles.

Russia is ‘undertaking a whole-of-government approach to influence the election, including the presidential race, Congress and public opinion,’ the official said, noting that Russia has grown ‘more sophisticated’ over the years in election interference. 

The Kremlin, officials said, is seeking to influence specific voting groups in swing states, as well as looking to promote divisive narratives and denigrate specific politicians, although no specifics were provided. 

An official said that artificial intelligence (A.I.) is making it easier for Russia – and other actors – to interfere in the U.S. political syatem, since the technology allows Kremlin operatives to mimic American Southern or Midwestern accents.

The Trump campaign and the Russian embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital requests for comment. 

‘Foreign adversaries continue to experiment with and have adopted at least some generative AI tools to more quickly and cheaply generate authentic looking content tailored primarily for social media platforms that can target specific audiences including in the U.S.,’ an ODNI official said during the briefing, noting a heavy focus on its use by Russia and China.

The official added, China would be interested in down-ballot races down to the state and potentially local level. But to be clear, this is something we’re watching at this time, rather than, actively seeing it as we did in the 2022 cycle. Right now, our assessment is focused that China doesn’t perceive a benefit in supporting either candidate, or either party.’

The official said that China is pulling data from TikTok and other social media platforms used in the U.S. in order to spread their influence narratives, as well as to collect publicly available data on users and public opinion. 

Meanwhile, the ODNI official said that Iran is seeking to stoke social divisions among the U.S. population and ‘undermine confidence in the US democratic institutions around the elections.’

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said Tuesday that Iran is attempting through social media to covertly stoke protests in the U.S. against the war in Gaza. 

‘We have observed actors tied to Iran’s government posing as activists online, seeking to encourage protests, and even providing financial support to protesters,’ Haines said, adding that Americans protesting in good faith may not know they are being influenced by the Iranian regime. 

‘We urge all Americans to remain vigilant as they engage online with accounts and actors they do not personally know.’

Tuesday’s briefing came on the same day that the Justice Department nabbed an alleged social media ‘bot farm’ run by the Russian government that was being used to spread disinformation in the U.S. and other countries. 

The Justice Department said it seized two domain names and identified 968 social media profiles used by Russian actors in the Netherlands to create AI-enhanced social media profiles to promote messages in support of Russian government objectives. 

One of the fake messages posted on X, formerly Twitter, in 2023 included a video of Russian President Vladimir Putin justifying the country’s actions in Ukraine, although the video only had a handful of views. 

Fox News’ Liz Friden contributed to this report. 

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