Vladimir Putin Approved Operations to Damage Biden's Campaign, Help Trump, Report Says

Russian President Vladimir Putin approved operations that harmed President Joe Biden's candidacy, while aiding then-incumbent Donald Trump during the 2020 presidential election, according to a Tuesday report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

According to the report, Putin authorized "influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden's candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating socio-political divisions in the U.S."

The 15-page report into election interference found that although Putin authorized these operations, Russian hackers did not make consistent efforts to break into election infrastructure. This differs from past elections, like Trump's 2016 race against Hillary Clinton.

Instead, one of the strategies Putin authorized was the use of Russian proxies to spread misinformation among the American people "including some close to former President Trump and his administration" and the media.

The report noted that those plans were enacted by "a range of Russian government organizations."

U.S. intelligence agencies and former Special Counsel Robert Muller came to the conclusion that Russian interfered in the 2016 presidential election to aid Trump, including by pushing propaganda against his then-opponent Clinton.

Tuesday's report also revealed that China did not enact operations to manipulate the results of the 2020 presidential election between Trump and Biden. China was previously thought to be expanding its efforts to influence U.S. affairs.

"China sought stability in its relationship with the United States and did not view either election outcome as being advantageous enough for China to risk blowback if caught," the report said.

Vladimir Putin chairs a video meeting of
Vladimir Putin is shown above on July 2, 2020. He has approved operations to damage President Joe Biden's operations, while aiding former President Donald Trump's, report says. Photo by ALEXEI DRUZHININ/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images/Getty Images

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

The report released Tuesday from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence amounts to the most detailed description of the broad array of foreign threats to the 2020 election, including Russian influence operations that officials say were authorized by President Vladimir Putin and efforts by Iran to undermine confidence in the vote and harm Donald Trump's re-election prospects. All told, the report says, the U.S. tracked a broader array of foreign election threats than in past cycles, including from the Middle East and South America.

In the end, officials said: "We have no indications that any foreign actor attempted to interfere in the 2020 US elections by altering any technical aspect of the voting process, including voter registration, ballot casting, vote tabulation, or reporting results."

The report wades into the politically freighted assessments of ferreting out which foreign adversaries supported which candidates during the 2020 presidential election. That question took on added scrutiny when Trump, whose 2016 election effort benefited from hacking by Russian intelligence officers and a covert social media campaign, seized on an intelligence community assessment from last August that said China preferred a Biden presidency to Trump's re-election.