FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warned state and local election officials about Russia’s activities related to the 2024 election during a briefing in December classified as “SECRET-level.” 

The secret “Election Infrastructure Classified Briefing,” held Dec. 6 by the Biden administration agencies, focused on Russia’s online tactics such as misinformation or disinformation, according to an agenda. 

“Election stakeholders are invited to a SECRET-level classified briefing with CISA, DHS [Office of] Intelligence & Analysis, FBI, and other intelligence community partners on the threats Russia poses to elections,” the briefing agenda says. 

CISA stands for Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security and bills itself as “America’s Cyber Defense Agency.”

The secret election-related briefing comes to light after revelations that the FBI, Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, and congressional Democrats all pushed narratives about Russia and Donald Trump that were proven to be untrue. 

An unknown number of election officials were briefed by specialists with the FBI’s Cyber Division, the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force, as well as with the two Department of Homeland Security subagencies. 

A since-declassified agenda for the briefing was obtained by The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project through a public records request filed with the Washington state Secretary of State’s Office. (The Daily Signal is the news and commentary outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

The agenda for the secret Dec. 6 briefing says, in part:

Briefers will explore Russia’s strategic intent and capability and outline tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), strategic aims, and goals of Russian activity in this space. The intent of this briefing is to deepen the understanding of the election community on the threats posed by Russian threat actors and how those might manifest in election jurisdictions across the country.

Foreign adversaries are attempting to undermine Americans’ confidence in elections, as well as in other U.S. institutions, Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., said.

“There are a lot of nefarious actors in the system, many of them funded by Russia and China, that want to increase American distrust in absolutely every aspect of our society,” Johnson, a member of the House Select Committee on China, told The Daily Signal. “We know that there are dark forces that are working to manipulate our elections, and I think Americans should be very distrustful of information they see in the wild on the internet.”

In fall 2020, FBI officials warned social media companies about Russian disinformation shortly before the New York Post broke stories on the contents of Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop, the facts of which were verified long after the election by other major news outlets. 

Just before the presidential election in which Trump, the Republican incumbent, faced Democratic challenger Biden, the Biden campaign orchestrated an ad in which 51 former intelligence officials stated that the Hunter Biden laptop story likely was Russian disinformation. 

Before that, Democrats accused the Trump campaign of conspiring with the Russian government to win the 2016 election by defeating Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, an allegation that special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, found no evidence to support. 

Similar to the conclusions of House and Senate intelligence committees, Mueller did find evidence that Russian operatives meddled in the 2016 election with fake information on the internet and hacked into the computers used by the Democratic National Committee. 

However, none of the investigations found any impact on vote totals in the 2016 presidential race. 

In the secret Dec. 6 briefing, FBI and DHS officials instructed state election officials on topics such as:

 —“Russian cyber actors and the threat to election infrastructure.”

—“Case studies of Russian cyber targeting in Ukraine.”

—“The Russia Playbook for foreign malign influence (FMI).”

 —“How Russia targets the United States.” 

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