Republican Sen. James Lankford, a member of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, equivocated in an interview this week on the question of whether the Chinese government is seeking to influence the midterm elections as the president has claimed.
President Donald Trump said at the United Nations Security Council in September that “regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration.”
Lankford addressed this possibility in broad strokes in an interview with Intelligence Matters, a CBS podcast hosted by former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell.
“I think what Russia has done and what other countries have done in the past — everybody’s going to test out,” the Oklahoma Republican said. “They’re going to experiment to see what they can do. The Chinese certainly have the capability — to be able to engage in this area.”
Still, Lankford emphasized that “we haven’t seen them engage on election issues before,” and the country’s focus is on PR “because they want to do business with the United States.”
The Trump administration has not provided any evidence that bolsters its accusation of interference.
“We have evidence. It’ll come out. I can’t tell you know, but it didn’t come out of nowhere, that I can tell you,” Trump told reporters at the U.N.
China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, refuted Trump’s claim of interference, the New York Times reported. “We did not, and will not, interfere in any country’s domestic affairs. We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations.”
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