Intel officials are watching for signs that Russia and China are trying to use Trump’s impeachment to widen the US political divide.


US intelligence officials are watching for any influence campaign by Russia or China that aims to amplify existing political divisions or stoke anger among Americans over the impeachment of former President Donald Trump, according to two US officials.

Officials have been on high alert since the allegation was confirmed last week and have so far seen no significant signs of Russian or Chinese interference in the country’s political discourse beyond efforts that have become standard, US officials said. .

But after Trump’s arraignment on Tuesday, one of the officials said the intelligence community is watching «very closely» for any signs of such interference.

Intelligence officials particularly look to any Chinese or Russian efforts to provoke a response to Trump’s impeachment and subsequent arraignment, such as protests, this official said. They are more concerned that Russia will try to stir the pot with disinformation, through social media or other means, the two officials said. Russia has shown a willingness and ability to interfere in the US political process, most notably in the 2016 presidential election, and China has increasingly sought to imitate those efforts.

A US official said Trump continues to be talked about on Russian and Chinese hacker channels, including discussion of the impeachment.

The CIA declined to comment. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI did not respond to requests for comment.

Recently, pro-Russian Twitter accounts posted false information intended to fuel fears among residents of East Palestine, Ohio, and stoke political tensions after a major chemical train spill.

Bret Schafer, who leads a team tracking Russian, Chinese and Iranian information manipulation efforts at the German Marshall Fund, a US foreign policy think tank on the impeachment and arrest of President Trump.”

“However,” Schafer said in an email, “we have seen the usual opportunism of state-backed actors, especially Russian proxies, framing the event as evidence that American democracy and the rule of law are collapsing. ”.

phil mccausland and they shine contributed.

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