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Pelosi calls Iran 'bad actor' but not equivalent to Russia on election interference

Pelosi calls Iran 'bad actor' but not equivalent to Russia on election interference
© Greg Nash

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiUS economy hurtles toward 'COVID cliff' with programs set to expire Democrats gear up for last oversight showdown with Trump Divided citizenry and government — a call to action for common ground MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday said Iran is a “bad actor” but not on par with Russia in terms of seeking to influence the U.S. election. 

Pelosi and other Democrats sought to draw attention on Russian interference after Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeProfiles in cowardice: Trump's Senate enablers Biden considering King for director of national intelligence: report Haspel not in attendance at latest Trump intelligence briefing: reports MORE warned Wednesday both countries are behind efforts to sway public opinion related to the presidential election. 

He particularly called out Iran as being behind spoofed emails to registered voters that he said aimed to damage President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE, but Pelosi said Ratcliffe is suggesting a false equivalence regarding interference efforts from Iran and Russia.  

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“I will be very interested to hear what they have to say in a classified briefing, because everything we have seen in the public domain does not justify the statements that we heard yesterday,” Pelosi said at a press conference Thursday, regarding Ratcliffe’s comments the night before. 

“Russia is the villain here from what we have seen in the public domain,” Pelosi added. “Iran is a bad actor but in no way equivalent. And they always try to find some equivalence to protect their friend, Russia.”

She spoke to reporters shortly before receiving a classified briefing on the intelligence about the efforts. 

Pelosi’s remarks are in line with similar critical comments from Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerNew York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn Biden congratulates Pelosi on Speaker nomination Senate Democrats introduce bill to shore up PPE supply MORE (D-N.Y.) the night before, after he received a classified briefing. He said on MSNBC the briefing did not convince him the effort is aimed at any particular candidate.

“I’m not saying what he told me in their briefing, I can tell you that from the briefing I had the strong impression it was much rather to undermine confidence in elections and not aimed at any particular figure, but rather to undermine the very wellspring of our democracy,” Schumer said. 

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National Counterintelligence and Security Director William Evanina in August warned of ongoing election interference by China, Russia and Iran. He said that China prefers Trump not win reelection and Iran seeks to undermine both Trump and U.S. institutions, while Russia is working to “primarily denigrate” Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE

Ratcliffe’s comments Wednesday evening about Iranian interference came after registered voters in several states reported receiving emails from domains purporting to be far-right group Proud Boys that threatened recipients to vote for Trump or face consequences. 

Individuals affiliated with the Proud Boys had denied sending the emails before Ratcliffe's press conference, according to The Washington Post.