Tags: 2018 Midterm Elections | Russia | Trump Administration | election | meddling | 2020 | no collusion

US Intelligence Officials: Russia Still Meddling in Our Elections


By    |   Thursday, 02 August 2018 01:36 PM

Russia is behind a "pervasive messaging campaign" to undermine the November congressional elections and the 2020 presidential election, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Thursday, vowing the Trump administration will "continue to monitor and warn of any such efforts."

"We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States," Coats and other U.S. intelligence officials told reporters at the White House briefing.

"These efforts are not exclusive to this election or future elections, but certainly cover issues relevant to the election.

"We also know the Russians tried to hack into and steal information from candidates and government officials alike.

"We're aware that Russia is not the only country that has an interest in trying to influence our domestic political environment," Coats said, though he declined to be more specific.

The illegal activity includes criminal efforts to suppress voting and provide illegal campaign financing, cyberattacks against voting infrastructure along with computer intrusions targeting elected officials and others, Coats and the other officials said.

"We know there are others who have the capability and may be considering influence activities," he said. "We will continue to monitor and warn of any such efforts."

Coats appeared with National Security Adviser John Bolton, FBI Director John Wray, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone.

The focus came as special counsel Robert Mueller continues to investigate Moscow's interference in the 2016 election and as legislators raise concerns about whether the Trump administration was seriously addressing the possibility of Kremlin tampering in the upcoming elections.

In addition, embattled Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri said last week the Kremlin unsuccessfully tried to hack into her accounts.

None of the intelligence officials, however, would be more specific on any Russian activity or on U.S. efforts to combat it.

"The president has made it abundantly clear to everybody who has responsibility in this area that he cares deeply about it and that he expects them to do their jobs to their fullest ability," Bolton told reporters.

Wray, who took over the FBI last year, said "the threat is real" in describing Russia's election-meddling campaign — calling it "information warfare."

"But it's pervasive," he said. "It is ongoing with the intent to achieve their intent, and that is drive a wedge and undermine our democratic values.

"It's important to understand," Wray cautioned, "this is not just an election-cycle threat.

"Our adversaries are trying to undermine our country on a persistent and regular basis, whether it's election season or not.

"We have to make sure we're pushing back on it, which is what we're doing."

Nielsen said Homeland Security was working with state and local governments to identify and rectify weaknesses in their election systems.

"Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs," she said. "Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy.

"It has become clear that they are the target of our adversaries who seek to sow discord and undermine our way of life."

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Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Russia is working to undermine the presidential election in 2020 and November U.S. congressional elections as well.
election, meddling, 2020, no collusion, intelligence
Thursday, 02 August 2018 01:36 PM
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