On Wednesday night, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) appeared for a sudden press conference where officials announced that Russia had taken specific action to influence the United States election in favor of President Donald Trump, while Iran had done the same for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Considering Russia's efforts in 2016, the announcement that Russia was once again working to undermine the election came as no surprise.
What was surprising was the evidence put forth by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on how Iran was working to help Biden.
Ratcliffe presented emails claiming to be from the Proud Boys—the far-right militia whom Trump wouldn't denounce at the first presidential debate—sent to Democratic voters threatening them to vote for Donald Trump or the militia would "come after" them.
"We have already seen Iran sending spoofed emails, designed to intimidate voters, insight social unrest, and damage President Trump."
One of the spoof emails is pictured below.
The email reads in part:
"You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you. 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."
Given Ratcliffe's documented loyalty to Trump and the contents of the email explicitly urging Democrats to vote for Trump, people were skeptical of the claim.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who received a classified briefing on the matter, said this briefing didn't convey that Iran was working to damage Trump.
"I did receive a classified briefing this afternoon on this, and so I can't discuss the details but I can tell you one thing it was clear to me, that the intent of Iran in this case, and Russia in many more cases is to … basically undermine confidence in our elections. This action I do not believe was aimed, from my surmise, was aimed at discrediting President Trump,"
People didn't readily believe Ratcliffe's assertion.
The announcement injected the upcoming election with even more urgency.
The election is 12 days away, but early voting has already begun in at least 40 states.