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FBI: Russia pushes division

WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia wants to watch Americans “tear ourselves apart” as the United States heads toward elections, an FBI official warned Monday.

David Porter, an assistant section chief with the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force, accused Russia of conducting brazen operations aimed at spreading disinformation, exploiting lines of division in society and sowing doubt about the integrity of U.S. elections and the ability of its leaders to govern effectively.

Porter spoke at an election security conference on Capitol Hill just days after conflicting accounts emerged of a closed-door briefing intelligence officials had given to House lawmakers on threats from Russia and other nations in the 2020 election. That briefing focused attention on the possibility that Russia could work to aid President Donald Trump’s reelection. Democratic rival Sen. Bernie Sanders has said intelligence officials told him that Russia was looking to boost his candidacy too.

Porter did not address the briefing or whether Russia had a preference for particular candidates. But he said Russia was generally engaged in “information confrontation.”

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