China, Russia, Iran tried to meddle in 2022 midterm elections: Report

China, Russia, Iran tried to meddle in 2022 midterm elections: Report

(NewsNation) — China intensified its efforts to influence American politics during the 2022 midterm elections, suggesting Beijing is taking a more aggressive approach in exploiting social and political divisions, according to a newly released intelligence assessment.

The National Intelligence Council report, declassified last week, said the Chinese government “tacitly approved efforts to try to influence a handful of midterm races involving members of both US political parties.”

No specific races were identified in the assessment, but it said China believed Congress would maintain an “adversarial” view of the country regardless of which party was in power.

The report found Russia, Iran and Cuba also tried to meddle in the 2022 Congressional elections, but there was no known order from a foreign leader to “undertake a comprehensive who-of-government influence campaign” like what Russia carried out in 2016, according to the report.

“Beijing almost certainly viewed the US midterm elections as an opportunity to portray the US democratic model as chaotic, ineffective, and unrepresentative, and frequently directed [People’s Republic of China] messaging to highlight US divisions on social issues, such as abortion and gun control,” the reported outlined.

U.S. intelligence agencies have already begun gearing up for interference efforts in the 2024 presidential election, which officials predict will be more intense than those of 2022. Interference efforts from foreign adversaries in 2022 exceeded those of the 2018 midterm elections.

While the assessment says China, Russia and Iran worked to influence the elections, there was no sign they conducted cyberattacks to try and gain access to or tamper with the ballot counting.

“We assess that most foreign actors now appear largely focused on amplifying authentic US public narratives to try to influence electoral outcomes, increase mistrust in US election processes, and stoke sociopolitical divisions,” the report said. “This approach provides deniability as foreign actors propagate US content to try to exploit existing fissures.”

This involved the covert use of social media accounts and proxy websites, payments to influencers and the use of public relations firms, the report said.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., called the contents of the intelligence report “groundless and fabricated.”

“China has always adhered to the principle of non-interference in internal affairs and has no interest in interfering in the internal affairs and elections of the US,” Liu Pengyu said in an email to NBC. “The relevant accusations are purely groundless and fabricated out of thin air.”

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