In an election interference campaign that is both clever and sophisticated, Iran has been posing as the right-wing group Proud Boys and sending threatening emails to Democrat voters, telling them that they need to vote for Trump “or else” face the consequences. The emails were widely reported on Wednesday by the mainstream press, which – we should note – did not go out of its way to cast doubts as to whether or not the Proud Boys were actually behind the emails.
But on Wednesday evening, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe confirmed that the emails had a much more sinister origin.
“The U.S. government has concluded that Iran was behind a series of threatening emails arriving this week in the inboxes of Democratic voters,” The Washington Post reported. “The emails claimed to be from the Proud Boys, a far-right group supportive of President Trump, but appeared instead to be a deceptive campaign making use of a vulnerability in the organization’s online network.”
Ratcliffe said at a press conference that both Iran and Russia have obtained voter registration information that is allowing them to begin conducting these misleading campaigns.
“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 said. “Additionally, Iran is distributing other content to include a video that implies that individuals could cast fraudulent ballots, even from overseas. This video and any claims about such allegedly fraudulent ballots are not true. These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries. Even if the adversaries pursue further attempts to intimidate or attempt to undermine voter confidence, know that our election systems are resilient and you can be confident your votes are secure.”
Also at the press conference was FBI Director Christopher Wray, who said that his agency would be investigating any efforts by foreign influencers to meddle in the election.
“At the FBI, we’ve been working closely with our intelligence community partners, as well as our other federal, state, and local partners to share information, bolster security, and identify and disrupt any threats,” Wray said. “We are not going to tolerate foreign interference in our elections or any criminal activity that threatens the sanctity of your vote or undermines public confidence in the outcome of the election.”
What this shows us is that the Washington Post, The New York Times, and other anti-Trump news agencies need to be extremely careful about reporting on things like these emails…because not everything is as it seems. These news outlets are the first to speculate about Russian interference when the target is a Democrat; they need to apply at least that much skepticism when it comes to episodes that cast Republicans in a bad light.
Not that we’re holding our breath.