Spy chief says intelligence doesn’t show foreign foes or criminal groups can change vote totals


The Trump administration’s spy chief said intelligence does not show that any foreign foe or criminal organization has the means to change the November election results, let alone actually did so, despite claims from some Trump-allied lawyers and others that foreign actors helped flip millions of voting machine votes from President Trump to President-elect Joe Biden.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, a former Texas Republican congressman who has overseen the intelligence community’s 17 spy agencies since assuming the role in May, made the remarks on Thursday during an interview with Catherine Herridge of CBS News. This was days after Attorney General William Barr told the Associated Press that the Justice Department had not unearthed voter fraud that could have overturned the results of the November election.

“Does the intelligence show that any foreign adversary or criminal group had the ability to change the vote results?” Herridge asked.

“Not that we’ve been able to determine,” though he noted that, “at this point in time, we’re still analyzing all of the intelligence,” Ratcliffe replied.

Herridge then asked if “the intelligence shows that foreign adversaries are amplifying the voter fraud allegations,” to which Ratcliffe said that “they are.” The spy chief added that “I can’t tell you” which countries were amplifying those claims, but he said their objective was “to undermine public confidence in our democratic processes.”

“When the president gives a video on voter fraud allegations, is that intelligence coming from you?” Herridge also asked, in reference to a more than 46-minute video that Trump posted on his Facebook page.

Ratcliffe responded, “I can’t tell you the specific information that I give the president, but voter fraud is not an issue for the intelligence community, per se. That’s a domestic law enforcement issue.”

Barr undercut claims made by Trump and his allies that the race was “stolen” and that Biden didn’t really win.

“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” Barr said on Tuesday. He also appeared to shoot down allegations made by one-time Trump legal team lawyer Sidney Powell, who has repeatedly claimed that millions of votes were flipped from Trump to Biden. “There’s been one assertion that would be systemic fraud, and that would be the claim that machines were programmed, essentially, to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and, so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”

The attorney general added: “Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. They are not systemic allegations, and those have been run down — they are being run down. Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on.”

As Trump-allied insiders distanced themselves from election fraud allegations made by Powell, and national security officials within the Trump administration said they had seen no evidence of her claims, the president's legal team announced last month that Powell had no direct role in their efforts.

Before that happened, at a press conference in Washington, D.C., Powell claimed Dominion Voting Systems software was created “at the direction” of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to steal elections in his country and that the machines “can set and run an algorithm that probably ran all over the country to take a certain percentage of votes from President Trump and flip them to President Biden.” Trump has repeatedly tweeted about Dominion to cast doubt on the election.

Dominion has denied being involved in a vote-switching scheme. Dominion spokesman Michael Steel rebutted these claims, saying that “this is a nonpartisan American company” and “it is not physically possible for our machines to switch votes from one candidate to the other.”

“Based on everything I’ve seen, which is a lot more than Sidney Powell, to say the least, there is no basis for what she is saying,” a senior national security official told the Washington Examiner in late November.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and other groups said that “the November 3rd election was the most secure in American history” and that “there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” Trump fired the head of that agency, Chris Krebs, last month, saying he disagreed.

Brandon Wales, the acting director of CISA, told the Aspen Cyber Summit on Thursday that the agency stood by its assessment.

“The agency stands by the statement that was issued at the beginning of November, but I do want to add just a little bit of context to that. So, first of all, it was not a statement that CISA issued alone. It was a statement that was issued by the entire election security community, the people who have been working over the past three and a half years to improve the security of our election infrastructure,” Wales said. “Secondly, a lot of the claims that are out there have to do with election fraud, which is beyond the scope of the work that we do here at CISA and of the work that we have been focused on building. Election fraud is the purview of the Department of Justice and state and local authorities that have the responsibility for investigating and prosecuting that.”

Wales added: “We do not have any specific evidence of systems being compromised, but we continue to work with our state and local officials, and if they have concerns, we are one phone call away from helping them and assisting them. But I do think there are times when our statement has been misconstrued that there were no problems with the election or that it was fraud-free, and that’s just not the case. We do believe it was secure from external interference, which is our mandate, and we’re proud of the work we did to get to that point.”

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