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FBI director says Russia continues to interfere

FBI Director Christopher Wray said that Russia was engaging in real-time "malign influence operations" against the United States and called the country the "most aggressive actor" in the space of election interference.

Posted: Jul 19, 2018 8:26 PM
Updated: Jul 19, 2018 8:26 PM

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Wednesday that Russia was engaging in real-time "malign influence operations" against the United States and called the country the "most aggressive actor" in the space of election interference. The wide-ranging interview at times placed him in contrast with the President, who spent the week waffling on rhetoric to describe Russia's threat.

Speaking with NBC News anchor Lester Holt at a national security forum in Aspen, Colorado, Wray said the Russian operations were "very active" and "aimed at sowing discord and divisiveness in this country."

Wray also said that his "view has not changed" on the fact, established by the 2017 intelligence community assessment, that "Russia attempted to interfere with the last election."

Nearly one year into his tenure as President Donald Trump's hand-picked FBI chief, Wray's remarks were a stark staking of claim on territory that Trump has consistently muddied.

On Monday, Trump cast doubt on the intelligence community's assessment of Russian interference in a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and earlier on Wednesday appeared to suggest he did not believe Russian measures against American democracy were ongoing.

Trump and his press secretary Sarah Sanders have since attempted to clean up both comments, claiming semantic mistakes and misunderstandings. Trump also told CBS News Wednesday that he "accepts" the US intelligence assessment that Russia continues to target the United States.

In his interview, Wray said that the intelligence community has not observed an effort by Russia to target specific election infrastructure as it did in 2016, but "we could just be a moment away from it going to the next level."

"To me, it's a threat that we need to take extremely seriously and respond to with fierce determination and focus," Wray said. He added that the FBI was "looking at ways to increase awareness" around disinformation campaigns and suggested the American public think "critically about what is this I'm reading."

With a characteristic calm, Wray spent much of the hour-long sit-down answering questions about the controversies that have plagued the bureau in the past year.

He called special counsel Robert Mueller a "straight shooter" and declined to push back directly on criticisms levied against the FBI by Trump, instead reiterating a strong defense of the bureau's work.

Wray did, however, offer a rebuttal to some Republican lawmakers who called for action against disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok, whose anti-Trump messages were a central focus of a stinging report released earlier this year by the Justice Department's watchdog office.

"I'm not going to make decisions based on yelling and screaming. I'm going to make decisions based on the process," he said, adding that it was "very, very important" to allow for the internal FBI disciplinary procedures to proceed.

Conservative House members have also proved a thorn in the FBI's side in recent months as they've ratcheted up demands for documents about Strzok and other decisions made by bureau officials as they investigated Hillary Clinton's email server and potential collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russia.

Wray acknowledged a "tension" surrounding congressional oversight of the FBI and said he would be "unwilling to budge on talking about ongoing investigations and protecting sources and methods."

"There will always be somebody who says 'no, no, no, this one is special, this one is different, this is a unicorn, we should do it this time,'" Wray said. "Those are precisely the times when it's important to do it by the book and stay consistent with precedent."

Asked if he had ever threatened to resign at points throughout his dramatic year, as CNN and other news outlets have reported, Wray joked: "I'm a low-key, understated guy, but that should not be mistaken for what my spine is made out of."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 297321

Reported Deaths: 6805
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19814231
Hinds18949395
Harrison16886282
Rankin12842265
Jackson12750234
Lee9720163
Madison9516204
Jones8035148
Forrest7289138
Lauderdale6872228
Lowndes6061140
Lamar593381
Lafayette5767114
Washington5232130
Bolivar4630124
Oktibbeha443095
Panola433698
Pearl River4212132
Warren4144115
Pontotoc411071
Marshall405995
Monroe3996129
Union397174
Neshoba3848171
Lincoln3624104
Hancock352978
Leflore3400121
Sunflower320986
Tate303974
Pike302697
Scott296171
Alcorn292763
Yazoo292066
Itawamba290675
Coahoma283069
Tippah280065
Copiah279959
Simpson277581
Prentiss271258
Marion258878
Wayne255641
Leake254172
Covington250280
Grenada248878
Adams235778
George232745
Newton232753
Winston222179
Jasper214145
Tishomingo213266
Attala206971
Chickasaw201954
Holmes182870
Clay179452
Stone173429
Tallahatchie171739
Clarke170773
Calhoun158628
Smith153833
Yalobusha145736
Greene128133
Walthall125441
Montgomery123540
Noxubee123431
Perry123235
Lawrence121421
Carroll119425
Amite112435
Webster111132
Jefferson Davis102731
Tunica99824
Claiborne99030
Benton94024
Humphreys93128
Kemper91423
Quitman77514
Franklin76420
Choctaw70117
Jefferson62827
Wilkinson62727
Sharkey49217
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 499411

Reported Deaths: 10149
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson719951403
Mobile36396741
Madison32674469
Tuscaloosa24391423
Montgomery22789523
Shelby22250219
Baldwin19915289
Lee15070161
Calhoun13961296
Morgan13785255
Etowah13413327
Marshall11458215
Houston10121264
Elmore9509190
Limestone9435139
St. Clair9050228
Cullman8993183
Lauderdale8628214
DeKalb8507175
Talladega7643165
Walker6600260
Jackson6551104
Autauga634492
Blount6252128
Colbert6007121
Coffee5261104
Dale4680107
Russell407534
Franklin400779
Covington3996107
Chilton3911104
Escambia379473
Tallapoosa3637143
Clarke344553
Chambers3432111
Dallas3428142
Pike292973
Marion288796
Lawrence285787
Winston258568
Bibb246058
Marengo244657
Geneva240270
Pickens225757
Barbour213851
Hale212569
Fayette202657
Butler201466
Henry183541
Cherokee178140
Monroe166739
Randolph165141
Washington157036
Macon147845
Crenshaw146755
Clay146254
Cleburne140141
Lamar133933
Lowndes133151
Wilcox123225
Bullock117736
Conecuh107224
Perry106427
Sumter100832
Coosa90324
Greene88732
Choctaw55723
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