Iran Election Meddling Report Is a 'Desperate' U.S. Attempt to Undermine Election, Tehran Says

The Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York has rejected American reports that Tehran has been meddling in the upcoming presidential election, dismissing the allegations as "absurd" and an attempt to undermine the poll.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe held a press conference Wednesday in which he accused Russia and Iran of obtaining voter registration data to try and undermine the November election.

Ratcliffe said Tehran had sent threatening emails to registered Democrats posing as the white supremacist Proud Boys group, which have regularly engaged in street violence against leftist, progressive and anti-fascist protesters. President Donald Trump refused to condemn the Proud Boys and other white supremacist groups during the first presidential election debate.

The emails, according to Ratcliffe—a vehement Trump ally who was appointed DNI in May—were "designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage" Trump's re-election chances. He also said Iran had sent a video suggesting people "could cast fraudulent ballots, even from overseas."

Ratcliffe did not say how Russia had used the information. FBI Director Christopher Wray, however, warned last month that the Kremlin was spreading disinformation to "denigrate" Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Alireza Miryousefi, the spokesperson for the Iranian mission to the UN in New York, dismissed Ratcliffe's press conference as a "desperate" attempt to undermine the vote.

"Unlike the U.S., Iran does not interfere in other country's elections," Miryousefi said. "The world has been witnessing U.S.' own desperate public attempts to question the outcome of its own elections at the highest level."

"These accusations are nothing more than another scenario to undermine voter confidence, & are absurd. Iran has no interest in interfering in the U.S. election & no preference for the outcome. U.S. must end its malign and dangerous accusations against Iran."

Trump and his allies have been spreading conspiracy theories about electoral fraud and the dangers of mail-in ballots. The president has repeatedly claimed that the election will be rigged against him— offering no evidence to support the claim—and refused to say he would honor the result.

Iran is hoping for a Biden victory and relief from Trump's tough "maximum pressure" sanctions strategy, which has left Tehran's economy reeling and its leader short of cash. Another four years of Trump would be hugely costly for the regime, which is struggling to suppress the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and mass protests.

Nonetheless, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that whoever wins will have "no other choice but to surrender to the Iranian nation."

Lawmakers and intelligence officials have long warned that America's adversaries—including Russia, Iran and China—have sought to meddle in U.S. elections. Still, the GOP-controlled Senate headed by Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell has held up multiple election security bills proposed by Democrats.

John Ratcliffe, Iran, election 2020, Donald Trump
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe leaves after briefing Senators on Capitol Hill on July 1, in Washington, D.C. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images/Getty