By Jesse Stiller
Nation and World Editor
The Directors of National Intelligence (DNI) and FBI have announced that the countries of Iran and Russia were engaging in election interference and voter intimidation operations in an effort to sway the 2020 election.
Speaking from Washington D.C., as reported by NBC News, the FBI and DNI hosted an unexpected news conference on the evening of Oct. 21 to announce their findings in an investigation, stemming from emails that were sent to voters in swing states, threatening their lives and property if they didn’t vote a certain way.
According to NBC News, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said that agencies and groups within Iran and Russia had gained access to voter databases and had collected voting records, such as names and voting information, to target specific voters.
“‘This data can be used by foreign actors to attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos, and undermine your confidence in American democracy,’” Ratcliffe said during the conference, as reported by ABC News.
Those that were involved began sending emails to voters under the “Proud Boys” name, according to ABC News, referring to the far-right militant group, seemingly targeting Democratic voters that may have either voted for a candidate other than Donald Trump.
The emails from firstname.lastname@example.org, obtained by the Gainesville Sun in Florida, said that if the recipients didn’t vote for Trump, they would “‘come after’” them.
The Proud Boys told ABC News that they had no involvement with the alleged situation or plot, with international chairman of the group Enrique Tarrio saying, “‘Proud Boys never use a mass email or mass SMS system to even relay messages to our own supporters, let alone emails from a voter roll, which is apparently where they got that from.’”
FBI Director Christopher Wray also made remarks at the conference, saying that the FBI would not tolerate “criminal activity that threatens the sanctity of your vote or undermines public confidence in the outcome of the election.”
“We’re also coordinating with the private sector — both technology and social media companies — to make sure that their platforms are not used by foreign adversaries to spread disinformation and propaganda,” Wray said.
Wray further assured voters, according to the Los Angeles Times, that voters should be confident that their vote counted in the election.
According to ABC News, Google reported that 90 percent of the 25,000 emails that were sent over a 24 hour period were sent into spam filters, and removed a video that was sent to voters as well.
The link that was shared to voters, as reported by CNN, led to a YouTube video that served as a fake “tutorial” on how to cast fraudulent votes in the election by way of the Federal Voting Assistance Program. The video also directed voters to another video hosted on OrangeDox.com, but has since been removed.
Director Wray also assured Americans, as reported by NBC, that there was no way for these actors to change votes after they had been cast or counted, nor was there any evidence to suggest any vote had been compromised.