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Intelligence Officials Now Say Democrats ‘Misinterpreted’ Briefing On Russian Interference In 2020 Election
US President Donald Trump holds a press conference at the India and America summit meeting at Hyderabad House on February 25, 2020 in New Delhi, India.
Pallava Bagla/Corbis via Getty Images

Everything is a mess surrounding last week’s “bombshell” from The New York Times alleging Russia is interfering in the U.S. elections to help President Donald Trump.

After the initial report from anonymous intelligence sources leaking a private briefing to a major media outlet, it was reported that Russia was (also?) trying to help Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) become president. Whether any of the information was true or not, the media did Russia’s bidding by sowing fears that our elections were being interfered with by a foreign government.

Now, more anonymous intelligence officials have told NBC that, actually, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee – who received the briefing on February 13 – “misinterpreted” the information and that there is more nuance to what was reported.

“Current and former officials who spoke to NBC News this week say the misinformation and controversy surrounding that briefing have left them on the defensive, and worried that the public is not getting a full appreciation of the threat of foreign election interference in 2020,” NBC reported Tuesday evening.

As for the claim from the Times “that Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected,” NBC reported it “was an overstatement, fueled, they believe, by a misinterpretation by some Democratic lawmakers on the committee.”

The briefing was given by Shelby Pierson, the intelligence community’s top election security official. NBC is now reporting that “Pierson did not tell lawmakers that intelligence showed Russia was actively working to help the president’s re-election campaign.”

Instead, Pierson said that Russians were interfering with the U.S. elections by providing disinformation, which they and other countries do every election. Pierson also told lawmakers that Russians prefer Trump, but Pierson never told them that Russians were actively working to get Trump re-elected.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded in 2019 that Russians did seek to interfere in the U.S. elections and that they boosted Trump and Sanders in an effort to sow chaos. Later, during the general election, the nation began actively helping Trump win, although despite media claims that Russia somehow helped Trump win, the country actually spent relatively little on the Facebook ads that allegedly swung the election, and there is no evidence people who saw the ads decided to change their vote or vote when they weren’t planning to previously.

NBC naturally downplayed what the Trump has done against Russia while making Sanders seem to be tougher on the country. To date, Sanders has voted against Trump sanctions against Russia, but after he was told the country wanted to help him win the election, he said “My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do,” so NBC is sold. Never mind the fact that Sanders spent his honeymoon in the USSR and praised it when he returned and also defends murderous dictators, he said he would be tough and that’s all NBC needs.

Trump, on the other hand, was portrayed as being soft on Russia after he was told the country wanted to help him win the election.

“In contrast, Trump and his national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, have sidestepped questions about how they would respond to foreign election interference, and have instead put the focus on the Democrats. By doing so, they have also played politics with intelligence and national security, current and former officials say,” NBC reported.

Just a reminder, Trump has enacted numerous sanctions against Russia and its oligarchs for offenses including election interference. But Trump focused on Democrat leakers on the intelligence committee such as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), so NBC faulted him.

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