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Top Dems 'gravely concerned' Congress is the target of foreign meddling

Top Dems 'gravely concerned' Congress is the target of foreign meddling
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi along with other top Democratic lawmakers asked the FBI for a meeting on foreign efforts to spread disinformation in order to meddle in Congress and influence the upcoming presidential election. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

July 20 (UPI) -- Top congressional Democrats warned that the U.S. Congress appears to be the target of an ongoing foreign interference campaign, urging the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a letter to provide a counterintelligence briefing to all Houe and Senate politicians.

In the brief letter dated July 13 but released on Monday, the Democratic leaders -- led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer of New York -- said they were "gravely concerned" that Congress has been targeted by a "concerted foreign interference campaign" seeking to disseminate disinformation with the intent to influence Congress, public debate and the presidential election in November.

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"Given the seriousness and specificity of these threats, as members of congressional leadership and the congressional intelligence committees, we believe it is imperative that the FBI provide a classified defensive briefing to all members of Congress and that the briefing draw on all-source intelligence information and analysis, consistent with due regard for the protection of sensitive intelligence sources and methods," the lawmakers said.

The letter -- which was also signed by Adam Schiff, chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Mark Warner, vice chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence -- was addressed to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, asking his office to outline a plan for the briefing by Monday.

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The letter did not give any indication of what the threats were or where they may have originated.

Joe Biden, the presumed Democratic nominee to challenge President Donald Trump in the general elections in November, issued a statement later Monday, warning Russia by name as well as all nations against meddling.

"Today, I am putting the Kremlin and other foreign governments on notice," the former vice president said in a statement. "If elected president, I will treat foreign interference in our election as an adversarial act that significantly affects the relationship between the United States and the interfering nation's government."

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Biden said Friday night that he had started to receive intelligence briefings and that Russia, as well as China, was trying to influence the upcoming election.

"The Russians are still engaged in trying to delegitimize our electoral process," Biden told guests to a fundraiser, referring to the Kremlin's previous attempts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

A bipartisan group of 34 former national security leaders and experts on Monday also sent a letter to leaders of Congress urging for more money to be allocated to ensure the safety of the upcoming election.

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"We know that hostile foreign actors like China, Iran and Russia seek to cast doubt on the integrity of our electoral system," they wrote. "These actors influence Americans by exploiting fear and confusion about the voting process. Failing to make sure that all citizens can vote safely and securely will only give them material to further erode faith in our democratic system."

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