A newly declassified report, along with a letter transmitted to Congress by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, has confirmed that China interfered in the 2020 federal elections.
In the letter (pdf), Ratcliffe states that information about China’s interference in the election was suppressed by the upper levels of the CIA, which reportedly pressured analysts to withdraw their support for the view.
The Director of National Intelligence cited a report written by the Intelligence Community’s analytic ombudsman, Barry Zulauf, stating that “some analysts were reluctant to describe China’s actions as election interference because the analysts disagreed with the policies of President Donald Trump,” according to the Epoch Times.
Ratcliffe’s letter and the ombudsman report were published by The Washington Examiner on January 17.
“Based on all available sources of intelligence, with definitions consistently applied, and reached independent of political considerations or undue pressure—that the People’s Republic of China sought to influence the 2020 U.S. federal elections,” Ratcliffe wrote.
Zulauf’s report was given to Congress on January 7, along with an intelligence community assessment of interference in the 2020 election. In his report, Zulauf wrote that analysts working on Russia and China applied different standards in their reporting of foreign interference in the election.
The analysts labeled Russia’s activity as clear election interference, but were unwilling to do the same for China’s activity.
“Given analytic differences in the way Russia and China analysts examined their targets, China analysts appeared hesitant to assess Chinese actions as undue influence or interference,” Zulauf wrote.
“These analysts appeared reluctant to have their analysis on China brought forward because they tended to disagree with the Administration’s policies, saying in effect, I don’t want our intelligence used to support those policies,” he continued.
No actual details regarding China’s interference in the election were included in either the ombudsman report or Ratcliffe’s letter.
The ombudsman’s report assessed that politicization occurred in regards to the analysis of interference from both China and Russia. Zulauf concluded that neither analysts nor leaders in the intelligence community were at fault for the politicization, instead blaming it on the hyper-partisan atmosphere in the United States at this time.
“In most cases, what we see is the entire system responding to and resisting pressures from outside, rather than attempts to politicize intelligence by our leaders or analysts,” he wrote.
In an opinion piece published on December 3, 2020, Ratcliffe wrote that the Chinese Communist Party “poses the greatest threat to America today, and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II.”
“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily, and technologically. Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party,” he wrote.