With early voting already underway, thousands of registered voters in Florida, have received emails that threaten violence unless they vote for Donald Trump. These emails purport to come from from the far right group Proud Boys. Examples of the emails include the voter’s name, warn that the sender has the voter’s address and phone number, and say, “you will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you.” The emails warn voters to change their party affiliation to Republican as a signal that they had voted for Trump.

On Wednesday evening newly-minted Direct of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe made an announcement that the source of the emails was not actually the Proud Boys. Instead, said Ratcliffe, they were an example of foreign interference by Iran. And then, Ratcliffe said the purpose of the emails was to “to incite social unrest and damage President Trump.”

How emails that warned people to vote for Trump, or else, was intended to damage Trump, Ratcliffe did not explain. And even through FBI Director Christopher Wray was standing by, that part of the announcement does not appear to have been in briefings that were given to Congress earlier in the day.

During his announcement, Ratcliffe mentioned that Russia has also obtained U.S. voter registration information. Much of that information is not secret. It is available to anyone who requests it from the state and pays a small fee — this is how campaigns themselves obtain lists of registered voters used in get out the vote campaigns.

Of course, Russia actually has more information than this when it comes to Florida. That’s because in 2016 Republican strategist Aaron Nevins helped Russian agents identify both voter registration data and Democratic get out the vote strategies in the information they had stolen from the DNC. Nevins helped the Russians understand the importance of this information, and assisted them in identifying key districts to be targeted with false information. Nevins even helped the Russians prepare messages that he thought would be most effective in attacking Democratic candidates and shifting votes. Nevins did this knowingly, saying he didn’t care that he was working with the Russians, because “their interests aligned” in keeping Hillary Clinton out of office.

In an appearance on MSNBC, Senator Chuck Schumer said that the message Ratcliffe delivered in the hastily arranged Thursday press appearance was significantly different from the one that had been expressed to Congress in earlier briefings in one important way. Ratcliffe’s statement that the attack was coming from Iran, and was an “attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion” matched what senators heard in a closed door briefing from Wray. What was new was the claim that the information was intended to harm Trump.

Of course, Congress hasn’t heard much in the way of details. That’s because at the end of August, Ratcliffe suspended in-person briefings on election security. Congressional Democrats called the move “outrageous.” Ratcliffe’s justification for halting the briefings was that it, “helps ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that the information ODNI provides the Congress … is not misunderstood nor politicized.” 

Which is, of course, why when a CIA report showed that Russia is interfering in the election to plant exactly the smear against Joe Biden that Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani are promoting, Ratcliffe had nothing to say. And when emails threatened Democratic voters, Ratcliffe said it was intended to harm Trump.

Trump is said to be angry that Wray and Attorney General William Barr have not joined in to give him the kind of last minute boost he got from Comey in the 2016 cycle. But … there’s still time.

With early voting already underway, thousands of registered voters in Florida, have received emails that threaten violence unless they vote for Donald Trump. These emails purport to come from from the far right group Proud Boys. Examples of the emails include the voter’s name, warn that the sender has the voter’s address and phone number, and say, “you will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you.” The emails warn voters to change their party affiliation to Republican as a signal that they had voted for Trump.

On Wednesday evening newly-minted Direct of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe made an announcement that the source of the emails was not actually the Proud Boys. Instead, said Ratcliffe, they were an example of foreign interference by Iran. And then, Ratcliffe said the purpose of the emails was to “to incite social unrest and damage President Trump.”

How emails that warned people to vote for Trump, or else, was intended to damage Trump, Ratcliffe did not explain. And even through FBI Director Christopher Wray was standing by, that part of the announcement does not appear to have been in briefings that were given to Congress earlier in the day.

During his announcement, Ratcliffe mentioned that Russia has also obtained U.S. voter registration information. Much of that information is not secret. It is available to anyone who requests it from the state and pays a small fee — this is how campaigns themselves obtain lists of registered voters used in get out the vote campaigns.

Of course, Russia actually has more information than this when it comes to Florida. That’s because in 2016 Republican strategist Aaron Nevins helped Russian agents identify both voter registration data and Democratic get out the vote strategies in the information they had stolen from the DNC. Nevins helped the Russians understand the importance of this information, and assisted them in identifying key districts to be targeted with false information. Nevins even helped the Russians prepare messages that he thought would be most effective in attacking Democratic candidates and shifting votes. Nevins did this knowingly, saying he didn’t care that he was working with the Russians, because “their interests aligned” in keeping Hillary Clinton out of office.

In an appearance on MSNBC, Senator Chuck Schumer said that the message Ratcliffe delivered in the hastily arranged Thursday press appearance was significantly different from the one that had been expressed to Congress in earlier briefings in one important way. Ratcliffe’s statement that the attack was coming from Iran, and was an “attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion” matched what senators heard in a closed door briefing from Wray. What was new was the claim that the information was intended to harm Trump.

Of course, Congress hasn’t heard much in the way of details. That’s because at the end of August, Ratcliffe suspended in-person briefings on election security. Congressional Democrats called the move “outrageous.” Ratcliffe’s justification for halting the briefings was that it, “helps ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that the information ODNI provides the Congress … is not misunderstood nor politicized.” 

Which is, of course, why when a CIA report showed that Russia is interfering in the election to plant exactly the smear against Joe Biden that Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani are promoting, Ratcliffe had nothing to say. And when emails threatened Democratic voters, Ratcliffe said it was intended to harm Trump.

Trump is said to be angry that Wray and Attorney General William Barr have not joined in to give him the kind of last minute boost he got from Comey in the 2016 cycle. But … there’s still time.

Daily Kos