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Cruz made the comment the morning after Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said during an FBI press conference that the two countries are attempting to sway the 2020 elections and have obtained some voter registration information.
“Russia is our enemy, Iran is our enemy,” Cruz, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said. “They have tried to interfere in elections before. They will try to interfere in this election. They will likely try to interfere in elections in the future.”
“We need to be aware of it and we need to be working to maintain the integrity of our election,” he continued.
Ratcliffe noted on Wednesday night that both nations had taken specific actions to influence voters' opinions. He said that the registration information they obtained could be used to confuse voters through false communication.
The Iranian interference that's been discovered, Ratcliffe said, has been designed to incite social unrest and damage the president.
The news conference was held as Democratic voters in at least four battleground states, including Florida and Pennsylvania, have received threatening emails, falsely purporting to be from the far-right group Proud Boys, that warned “we will come after you” if the recipients didn’t vote for President Trump.
The voter-intimidation operation apparently used email addresses obtained from state voter registration lists, which include party affiliation and home addresses and can include email addresses and phone numbers. Those addresses were then used in an apparently widespread targeted spamming operation. The senders claimed they would know which candidate the recipient was voting for in the Nov. 3 election, for which early voting is ongoing.
Noting that his agency was responsible for investigating election crimes, FBI Director Christopher Wray vowed to take action in order to ensure the integrity of U.S. elections. He said that Americans should be "confident" that their votes count.
On Thursday Cruz noted that there are two ways “that a hostile player can interfere with an election.”
“One way to do it is what Russia and Iran apparently are doing here, which is creating false and fraudulent content and blasting it out to voters and having them believe it’s real,” he explained. “That’s serious and we need to be on our guard.”
“Another way to interfere in the election is what Twitter and Facebook are doing right now, which is blocking legitimate news, censoring the news feeds so that they prevent voters from hearing information they don’t want them to hear,” Cruz continued.
On Wednesday afternoon, New York Post business reporter Noah Manskar first alerted that the outlet's official Twitter account had been locked due to the Biden story being sourced from allegedly "hacked" information.
Twitter also locked several other accounts, including that of White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck after they shared the article. Facebook also limited the distribution of the story, claiming that they would rely on its fact-checking partners to determine its legitimacy.
The Post report contained a purported email between Hunter Biden and an adviser to Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings, who thanked the younger Biden for "giving an opportunity" to meet the then-vice president.
The Biden campaign said the former vice president engaged in “no wrongdoing” and the alleged meeting didn't take place.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey addressed the controversy late Wednesday, calling his company's actions "unacceptable."
On Thursday Cruz noted that there has been a “growing problem” with “Big Tech censoring individual Americans, conservative views they didn’t want” for several years, adding that “last week was a major escalation because it was the first time of which I am aware where Big Tech censored a major media outlet, namely the New York Post.”
He went on to say that the information in the reports “wasn’t malware, it wasn’t spyware, it was simply material that was harmful politically to Joe Biden.”
“A handful of Silicon Valley billionaires are now telling media companies they get to decide what stories you can write and what stories the American people can read, that is chilling and it’s wrong,” Cruz added.
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and Josh Hawley on Thursday called the heads of Twitter and Facebook to testify before Congress, as critics claimed the social media platforms have been censoring reporting critical of Democrats.
A Facebook spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while Twitter declined to comment on the GOP requests to appear on Capitol Hill.
“I think what Big Tech is doing, is outrageous,” Cruz said on Thursday. “I think it’s the greatest threat to free speech and to our democracy we have in our country.”
He added that the Senate Judiciary Committee “was going to be voting this week, to subpoena Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg, the CEOs of Twitter and Facebook, to explain what in the hell they’re doing because I think Big Tech CEOs are drunk on power right now and it’s not acceptable.”
Speaking on a companywide conference call Thursday, Zuckerberg said he expects Facebook will impose fewer restrictive rules on content following the conclusion of November’s presidential election.
Fox News’ Sam Dorman, Marisa Schultz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.