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House Democrat asks FBI for briefing on foreign adversaries possibly exploiting Floyd protests, unrest

House Democrat asks FBI for briefing on foreign adversaries possibly exploiting Floyd protests, unrest
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A House Democrat is asking the FBI to give a classified briefing on whether foreign adversaries have sought to exploit the protests over the death of George Floyd and the national debate about racial inequality in the U.S. in order to sow discord.

Rep. Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Top general negative for coronavirus, Pentagon chief to get tested after Trump result l Top House lawmakers launch investigation into Pentagon redirecting COVID-19 funds Top House lawmakers launch investigation into Pentagon redirecting COVID-19 funds Overnight Defense: Pentagon redirects pandemic funding to defense contractors | US planning for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May | Anti-Trump GOP group puts ads in military papers MORE (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security, sent a letter Tuesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for a briefing by June 26 on "foreign disinformation and influence activities related to the recent demonstrations protesting racial discrimination."

“I am deeply concerned that foreign adversaries may exploit this critical moment in American history to exacerbate social and cultural differences across the American political spectrum and ultimately threaten our national security,” Lynch wrote.

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In his letter, Lynch pointed to reports that Chinese- and Russian-backed media outlets as well as social media accounts have sought to push "divisive messages" piggybacking on top of already trending messages that are critical of the nation's handling of the protests.

"As of June 1, 2020, Chinese Foreign Ministry officials, Russian-backed news outlets, and others with ties to Russia and China have tweeted more than 1,200 times about U.S. protests using hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter and #Minneapolis," Lynch wrote.

Such tactics follow the playbook Russia used during the 2016 election where it sought to fan the flames of divisive issues on issues such as gun control and race relations.

The letter comes after Attorney General William BarrBill BarrPolice accountability board concludes that Seattle police officers used excessive force during encounters with protesters Trump hasn't asked Barr to open investigation into Bidens, McEnany says Seattle, Portland, NYC sue Trump administration over threat to pull federal money MORE in a press conference earlier this month said that he believes the U.S. government has "evidence that some of the foreign hackers and groups that are associated with foreign governments are ... trying to exacerbate it in every way they can."

Lynch in his letter pointed to Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and other foreign adversaries who might be seeking to spread disinformation to stir unrest as the U.S. continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Foreign adversaries cannot, and must not, be allowed to interfere, influence, or undermine the integrity of our democracy," Lynch said.