Iran Behind Supposed ‘Proud Boys’ Voter-Intimidation Emails, Feds Allege

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and FBI Director Christopher Wray joined forces at a hastily announced press conference Wednesday night to issue a warning that foreign actors “have taken specific actions to influence public opinion relating to our elections.” Specifically, Ratcliffe said, actors from Iran and Russia had separately obtained “some voter registration information” and were using it “to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos, and undermine your confidence in American democracy.”

Ratcliffe was referring to an email campaign that started earlier this week, when some voters in Florida, Arizona, and Alaska started receiving threatening messages. “Vote for Trump… or we will come after you,” the emails read. “Change your party affiliation to Republican to let us know you received our message and will comply. We will know which candidate you voted for. I would take this seriously if I were you. Good luck.”

The emails purported to come from the Proud Boys, a known US-based right-wing extremist group that has become increasingly active since its founding in 2016 and which President Donald Trump has tacitly supported. The Proud Boys reportedly denied involvement, however, and Vice Motherboard reported on Tuesday that the messages originated from a server in Estonia and were likely using a spoofed email address. […] Ratcliffe on Wednesday said that Iran was behind the spoofed emails and videos, which he claimed were “designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump.” Iran denied any involvement. “Unlike the US, Iran does not interfere in other country’s elections,” Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for the Iranian Mission to the United Nations, told NBC News late Wednesday. “The world has been witnessing US’ own desperate public attempts to question the outcome of its own elections at the highest level. These accusations are nothing more than another scenario to undermine voter confidence in the security of the US election and are absurd.”

“You should be confident that your vote counts,” Wray added. “Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. We encourage everyone to seek election and voting information from reliable sources — namely, your state election officials. And to be thoughtful, careful, and discerning consumers of information online.”