DNI Ratcliffe Connects China, the Pandemic, and Possible Foreign Election Interference

Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times via AP, Pool

A week ago, while election challenges were still raging — before SCOTUS declined to hear the Texas lawsuit — Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe spoke to Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo about how the election, thanks largely to the COVID pandemic, was materially changed into something the nation has never seen before, and how the pandemic, and by extension China, played a role in the lingering questions surrounding the election.

Ratcliffe told Bartiromo that China’s suppression of information surrounding the pandemic in the early days of the outbreak led to the virus’ spread around the world and that this affected “how people had to vote” in the 2020 general election in the U.S. He detailed how state legislatures — sometimes as late as 90 days before the election — instituted new voting procedures and adopted universal mail in balloting leading to the confusion still rampant and the allegations of vote fraud

In an op-ed published on Dec.3, Ratcliffe wrote in the Wall Street Journal that China has no intention of stopping their push to sit atop the “global order”:

China believes that a global order without it at the top is a historical aberration. It aims to change that and reverse the spread of liberty around the world.

Beijing is preparing for an open-ended period of confrontation with the U.S. Washington should also be prepared. Leaders must work across partisan divides to understand the threat, speak about it openly, and take action to address it.

Ratcliffe told CBS’ Catherine Herridge around the same time that China was targeting lawmakers in an attempt to get “laws and policies out of the United States that are favorable to China.”

What makes the DNI Director’s statements particularly interesting is the existence of a 2018 executive order signed by President Trump that found “the ability of persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States to interfere in or undermine public confidence in United States elections, including through the unauthorized accessing of election and campaign infrastructure or the covert distribution of propaganda and disinformation, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

The executive order mandates that “45 days after the conclusion of a United States election, the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the heads of any other appropriate executive departments and agencies (agencies), shall conduct an assessment of any information indicating that a foreign government, or any person acting as an agent of or on behalf of a foreign government, has acted with the intent or purpose of interfering in that election…The Director of National Intelligence shall deliver this assessment and appropriate supporting information to the President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security.”

Further, the order allows for sanctions on any person or entity found to have worked on behalf of a foreign government toward interfering in a U.S. election.

December 18 will mark 45 days since election day.