US intel chiefs unanimous that Russia is targeting 2018 elections

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Tuesday "there should be no doubt" that Russia sees the 2018 US elec...

Posted: Feb 14, 2018 12:11 AM
Updated: Feb 14, 2018 12:11 AM

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Tuesday "there should be no doubt" that Russia sees the 2018 US elections as a target.

Coats and the other top national security officials told the Senate Intelligence Committee that they still view Moscow as a threat to the 2018 elections, a stance that appears at odds with President Donald Trump's repeated dismissals of Russian election meddling.

"We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen and other means to influence, to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States," Coats said at a hearing on worldwide threats. "There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 US midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations."

Tuesday's hearing touched on a wide array of threats, from North Korea to China to weapons of mass destruction. But Russia's interference into US and other elections loomed large amid the committee's investigation into Russian election meddling and the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russian officials.

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the committee's top Democrat, warned that the US was not prepared to handle the Russian threat to US elections heading into the midterms.

"We've had more than a year to get our act together and address the threat posed by Russia and implement a strategy to deter future attacks. But we still do not have a plan," Warner said.

Warner questioned Coats and the other officials testifying - CIA Director Mike Pompeo, FBI Director Chris Wray, NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo - about how the government was addressing the threat to both the US election systems and through social media. He asked all six of the US officials testifying to reaffirm the intelligence community's findings last year that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and that the Kremlin will continue to intervene in future elections. All said yes.

Democrats pointed to that unanimous assessment to criticize Trump for maintaining a contrasting view to his own intelligence community.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, urged the intelligence chiefs to persuade the President to accept their findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

"My problem is, I talk to people in Maine who say the whole thing is a witch hunt and a hoax 'because the President told me,'" King said. "There's no doubt, as you all have testified today, we cannot confront this threat, which is a serious one, with a whole of government response when the leader of the government continues to that deny it exists."

Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, asked whether the efforts to counter Russia's election activities in 2018 had been directed by Trump.

"Not as specifically directed by the President," Wray responded.

Pompeo told the committee that the CIA had already "seen Russian activity and intentions to have an impact on the next election cycle here."

He also raised the prospect that the US could respond to election meddling with offensive cybercapabilities. "We do have some capability offensively to raise the cost for those who would dare challenge the United States' elections," Pompeo said.

Warner also questioned the government's response to the Russian social media influence efforts. Warner has been critical of the response of companies like Facebook and Twitter to the Russian activity on their social networks.

Coats responded that multiple government agencies are working on the social media effort, and they are trying to work with companies to help them address the threat. "We cannot as a government direct them what to do, but we are certainly spending every effort we can to work with them to provide some answers to this question," Coats said.

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, however, took issue with Warner's assertion that the US was not prepared for Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2018 elections on social media.

Risch said that the members of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the intelligence community were not surprised at Russia's efforts in 2016. And he argued that the public has become more educated too.

"With all due respect to my friend from Virginia, I think the American people are ready for this," Risch said. "The American people are smart people, they realize there are people attempting to manipulate them, both domestically and foreign. And I agree with everyone on the panel this is going to go on. This is the way the Russians have done business, this is no surprise to us."

Another issue related to Russia's election interference is the US voting systems themselves. The Department of Homeland Security has said there were Russian efforts to try to hack into the voting systems in 21 states, and several lawmakers have raised concerns states and localities are unprepared for the 2018 election cycle.

"Voting begins in March, that's next month," said Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican. "If we're going to have any impact on securing that voting system itself, it would seem to me, we need to be acting quickly."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 118587

Reported Deaths: 3310
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds8050179
DeSoto728580
Harrison549185
Jackson480088
Rankin404686
Madison386194
Lee366582
Forrest311878
Jones296684
Washington2627100
Lafayette255043
Lauderdale2546135
Lamar231940
Oktibbeha204855
Bolivar203979
Neshoba1868111
Lowndes181962
Panola172040
Leflore170688
Sunflower164349
Warren156156
Monroe153873
Pontotoc150620
Marshall148430
Lincoln143359
Pike140656
Copiah139336
Scott127029
Coahoma125837
Union125825
Yazoo123434
Simpson123149
Grenada122939
Tate121039
Itawamba117226
Leake116342
Pearl River116360
Holmes115060
Adams109445
Prentiss109220
Alcorn104512
Wayne102722
George101719
Covington98829
Marion95943
Tippah94924
Newton87227
Hancock86828
Chickasaw86727
Tallahatchie85526
Winston85221
Tishomingo82741
Attala80527
Clarke77053
Clay71022
Jasper69617
Walthall64427
Calhoun63313
Noxubee60217
Smith60216
Yalobusha56416
Montgomery55823
Lawrence54414
Claiborne53916
Tunica53717
Perry52423
Carroll50312
Stone49114
Greene48118
Humphreys45117
Amite42813
Quitman4236
Jefferson Davis42112
Webster37813
Benton36710
Wilkinson34221
Kemper33315
Sharkey28715
Jefferson27910
Franklin2513
Choctaw2096
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 161537

Reported Deaths: 2718
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23769383
Mobile17039318
Tuscaloosa10539141
Montgomery10435199
Madison946798
Shelby756365
Baldwin674369
Lee662465
Calhoun468962
Marshall445251
Etowah436552
Morgan426335
Houston421234
DeKalb351229
Elmore326558
St. Clair307042
Limestone295131
Walker285593
Talladega273937
Cullman260025
Lauderdale237143
Jackson221917
Autauga210331
Colbert208232
Franklin207732
Blount198825
Russell19763
Chilton190932
Dallas188127
Coffee182611
Dale180852
Covington176729
Escambia175331
Clarke138017
Chambers137047
Pike135514
Tallapoosa135387
Marion110331
Barbour10459
Marengo103522
Butler101541
Winston94313
Geneva9357
Lawrence87733
Pickens87418
Bibb85615
Randolph84316
Hale78030
Cherokee76114
Clay75812
Washington75412
Henry7286
Lowndes71728
Monroe66010
Bullock65017
Crenshaw61130
Perry5966
Fayette59413
Cleburne5779
Wilcox57112
Conecuh56513
Macon54120
Lamar5165
Sumter47721
Choctaw39412
Greene34616
Coosa2143
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