The Latest on U.S. election security (all times local):
A Russian woman has been charged with interfering in American elections, including next month’s midterms, through a vast social media effort aimed at trying to sway American public opinion.
It’s believed to be the first federal case alleging Russian interference in this year’s election.
The Justice Department disclosed the criminal complaint soon after U.S. intelligence agencies said in a joint statement that they were concerned about efforts by Russia, China and Iran to influence U.S. voters and policy.
The complaint says the woman, Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, worked for the same Russian social media troll farm that was indicted in February by special counsel Robert Mueller.
The complaint accuses Khusyaynova of helping to control the finances of a Russian effort to use fake social media postings to sow anger and division among American voters.
U.S. intelligence officials say they’re concerned about “ongoing campaigns” by Russia, China, Iran and other countries to undermine confidence in American democracy.
In a joint statement, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Homeland Security Department, the Justice Department and the FBI say they’re worried about activities that “seek to influence voter perceptions and decision-making” in the 2018 and 2020 elections.
The agencies say the “ongoing campaigns” could take many forms. Examples include attempts to influence voters through social media, sponsoring content in English language media such as the Russian outlet RT, or “seeding disinformation through sympathetic spokespersons regarding political candidates and disseminating foreign propaganda.”
Intelligence officials said last year that Russia sought to influence the 2016 presidential election through similar means.