President Donald Trump picked apart a reporter on Friday evening over the way the reporter asked a question about foreign countries that are looking to interfere in the upcoming U.S. elections this fall.
The question centered around a new report that was released this afternoon by U.S. intelligence officials that said that China and Iran wanted Trump to lose re-election, and claimed that Russia was trying to harm presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
“The intelligence agencies today said that Russia is already meddling in this year’s election to hurt Joe Biden and that China is considering meddling to hurt you,” a reporter said. “Do you believe that intelligence, and what do you plan to do about it?”
The reporter’s comments about China “considering” meddling in the election does not exactly match what U.S. officials said. The report said that China “has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and deflect and counter criticism of China.”
“It could be. I think that the last person Russia wants to see in office is Donald Trump because nobody’s been tougher on Russia than I have, ever,” Trump responded. “I don’t care what anybody says. Nobody with any common sense would say – look at what we’ve done with our military, look at what we’ve done in exposing the pipeline with billions of dollars going to Russia, look at all of the things we’ve done with NATO where I’ve raised $130 billion a year from countries that were delinquent and now they’re paying all of this money – and the 130 by the way, $130 billion, not million, billion, goes to $400 billion over a few years, and that’s all money to protect against Russia.”
“China would love us to have an election where Donald Trump lost to sleepy Joe Biden. They would dream, they would own our country,” Trump continued. “If Joe Biden was president, China would own our country, and you said another country, what was the third country?”
“No, just those two,” the reporter said.
“No, no, you didn’t say [what’s in the report], the report said Iran also, but you didn’t say that,” Trump fired back. “Iran would love to see, Iran would love to see me not be president, and I’ll make this statement, if and when we win, we will make deals with Iran very quickly…”
“But you started off with Russia. Why don’t you start off with China? You think China’s maybe a bigger threat?” Trump later added. “I think maybe it is.”
President Trump says the last thing Russia, China or Iran want is for him to win the presidential election. pic.twitter.com/jVkgHcnZRV
— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) August 8, 2020
The assessment from the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) stated the following about Russia, Iran, and China:
CHINA – We assess that China prefers that President Trump – whom Beijing sees as unpredictable – does not win reelection. China has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and deflect and counter criticism of China. Although China will continue to weigh the risks and benefits of aggressive action, its public rhetoric over the past few months has grown increasingly critical of the current Administration’s COVID-19 response, closure of China’s Houston Consulate, and actions on other issues. For example, it has harshly criticized the Administration’s statements and actions on Hong Kong, TikTok, the legal status of the South China Sea, and China’s efforts to dominate the 5G market. Beijing recognizes that all of these efforts might affect the presidential race.
RUSSIA – We assess that Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia “establishment.” This is consistent with Moscow’s public criticism of him when he was Vice President for his role in the Obama Administration’s policies on Ukraine and its support for the anti-Putin opposition inside Russia. For example, pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach is spreading claims about corruption – including through publicizing leaked phone calls – to undermine former Vice President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party. Some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.
IRAN – We assess that Iran seeks to undermine U.S. democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections. Iran’s efforts along these lines probably will focus on on-line influence, such as spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-U.S. content. Tehran’s motivation to conduct such activities is, in part, driven by a perception that President Trump’s reelection would result in a continuation of U.S. pressure on Iran in an effort to foment regime change.
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