Trump Vote-Rigging Claims Fit Russia’s Plan, Former Top Spy Says

President Donald Trump is playing into Russia’s hands by claiming that his political adversaries are trying to rig the U.S. election, a former senior intelligence official said.

Sue Gordon, who left the second-highest post in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence a year ago, said that the nation’s election infrastructure is “as well protected as it’s ever been.” She suggested that misinformation circulating on social media is at least as much of a challenge heading toward November.

Asked on CBS’s “Face the Nation” about Trump’s unsubstantiated claim at a rally in Minden, Nevada, on Saturday night that Democrats are “trying to rig” the election, Gordon said any president has a “disproportionate responsibility” to avoid tainting the vote’s integrity.

“I’m going to always hold the president more responsible than anybody else because he’s, well, the president, and his voice carries further, speaks louder,” Gordon said.

“And that message that you can’t trust our system, that you can’t trust the vote, that you can’t trust the other party, that you can’t trust — is exactly what the Russians, particularly, hope to achieve,” said Gordon, who’s now a Microsoft Corp. consultant. “Their aim would be to sow the divisions” and dissuade Americans from voting, she said.

“But he’s not the only one,” she added of Trump. “When the other party says that a difference in policy means that he is malfeasant, or evil, or being controlled — that, too, is undermining it.”

A Microsoft investigation published last week found that Russian, Chinese and Iranian hackers have stepped up efforts to disrupt the U.S. election by targeting the campaigns of Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Cyber-attacks have also been aimed at political parties, advocacy groups, academics and leaders in the international affairs community, Tom Burt, Microsoft’s vice president of customer security and trust, said in a blog post on Thursday.

While expressing confidence about U.S. election infrastructure, Gordon said “we have more work to do” to stop misinformation on social media.

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