House Speaker Nancy Pelosi voiced skepticism about Wednesday evening’s hastily called press conference during which the director of National Intelligence accused Iran of being behind a flurry of threatening but fake emails sent to Democratic voters in Florida and other battleground states.
“Everything we have seen in the public domain does not justify the statements that we heard yesterday,” Pelosi said ahead of a classified intelligence briefing she planned to attend Thursday.
Addressed as if from the far-right, pro-Trump Proud Boys group, the fake emails appeared aimed at intimidating voters. John Ratcliffe, the government’s national intelligence director, said the intent was to hurt President Donald Trump in the contest against Democrat Joe Biden, though he did not elaborate on how.
Officials did not lay out specific evidence for how they came to pinpoint Iran, but the activities attributed to Tehran would mark a significant escalation for a country some cybersecurity experts regard as a second-rate player in online espionage. The announcement was made late Wednesday at a hastily called news conference 13 days before the election.
“Russia is the villain here. From what we have seen in the public domain, Iran is a bad actor, but in no way equivalent,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi also said Thursday that progress is still being made in negotiations on a COVID relief package, although time appears to be running out before the November 3rd election.
At issue is a huge virus relief bill that would send another $1,200 direct payment to most Americans, restart bonus unemployment benefits, fund additional testing and vaccines, provide aid to schools and allocate money to states and local governments, a Democratic priority.