President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and others have asserted China is mounting an active interference campaign that overshadows even Russia — at times surpassing what the administration’s intelligence community has publicly described. When challenged, their response is, essentially: We’ve seen the intelligence. Trust us.

Democrats have countered with a rejoinder: We’ve also seen the intel, and it shows Russia poses the most acute threat to the 2020 election. Any other assertions, they say, simply amount to political spin to dull the sting of the intelligence community’s findings about Russian support for Trump’s reelection, which the president has long sought to downplay or deny. And Trump’s focus on China aligns with his campaign message that he has been tougher on Beijing.

“I worry a lot that there’s just so much noise and disinformation that people may not fully realize the severity of these risks,” said Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee

It all amounts to a dangerous and counterproductive spat that has undermined, rather than enhanced, confidence in the 2020 election, veteran intelligence officers say.