STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Rep.: FBI said Russia stoked racial tensions

Republican Rep. Tom Garrett, who represents Charlottesville, Virginia, said FBI officials told him and other members of Congress that Russian actors were attempting to sow discord around the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last year before the event took place. CNN's Brian Todd reports.

Posted: Aug 14, 2018 5:09 PM
Updated: Aug 14, 2018 5:22 PM

Republican Rep. Tom Garrett, who represents Charlottesville, Virginia, said Monday that FBI officials told him and other members of Congress that Russian actors were attempting to sow discord around the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last year before the event took place.

Garrett revealed the information publicly for the first time in an interview on CNN over the weekend and clarified separately that the activity took place before the rally.

"It was before. Via bots, the internet, and social media," Garrett said. "I'm frustrated because either both Republicans and Democrats do not understand what the Russians are actually doing, or they don't want to tell the truth about it, or both."

Garrett's recollection of the meeting with FBI officials was confirmed by fellow Rep. Morgan Griffith, a Virginia Republican who was sitting next to him during the briefing. Griffith recalls "jumping out of his chair" when he heard the news. Garrett asked if the information was classified, and FBI officials told him it was not.

Both congressmen say the FBI was clear that the interference was contained to social media posts and the internet and that they were told that there was no evidence that there was any Russian influence on the ground.

Two sources connected to the Senate Intelligence Committee also confirmed that there is evidence of Russian activity around the Charlottesville rally. They point out that the discord was not all connected specifically to the Unite the Right Rally, but more about the debate surrounding the removal of Confederate statues across the country. The purpose of the Unite the Right Rally was to protest the removal of a statute of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from downtown Charlottesville.

Garrett, who sits on the House Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs committees, argues that the information is an example of how the federal government is not paying close enough attention to the broad implications of the Russian threat.

"Oligarchs and people like Putin use things like this racial divisive fight, which ignores the commonalities we have regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, this is the sort of thing they do," Garrett said. "As a member of homeland security, seriously that's what scares me most."

Garrett's comments were echoed by Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican, who tweeted a response to the CNN report, saying, "Few Americans understand Putin's agents are now picking at the scabs of every cultural skirmish we have -- from race to guns to media tribes."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 27900

Reported Deaths: 1082
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds215239
DeSoto137316
Madison122234
Jones106949
Neshoba96069
Lauderdale88278
Rankin84112
Forrest81442
Scott75015
Harrison7448
Copiah56615
Leake54819
Jackson53316
Holmes52741
Wayne52112
Washington4969
Lee49316
Oktibbeha48624
Yazoo4736
Leflore47249
Lowndes45311
Warren44317
Lincoln43534
Lamar4197
Grenada3805
Monroe36729
Pike36712
Attala35223
Lafayette3524
Newton3289
Sunflower3066
Covington3025
Bolivar27713
Panola2706
Adams26718
Chickasaw25918
Tate2577
Jasper2506
Marion24811
Pontotoc2476
Noxubee2458
Pearl River24432
Winston2435
Clay24210
Claiborne23610
Simpson2303
Smith20611
Clarke20124
Marshall2013
Coahoma1866
Kemper17614
Union1759
Walthall1724
Yalobusha1617
Carroll16011
Lawrence1591
Itawamba1278
Calhoun1244
Humphreys1239
Tippah12311
Webster12310
Montgomery1222
Hancock12013
Jefferson Davis1064
Tallahatchie1043
Prentiss983
Greene927
Jefferson923
Wilkinson919
Tunica893
Amite822
George743
Choctaw714
Quitman680
Tishomingo681
Perry614
Alcorn561
Stone521
Franklin382
Benton270
Sharkey240
Issaquena71
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 39604

Reported Deaths: 961
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4387142
Montgomery383999
Mobile3697134
Tuscaloosa204938
Marshall153710
Lee118937
Shelby108223
Madison10577
Morgan9813
Walker86723
Franklin85213
Dallas8198
Elmore81314
Baldwin6869
Etowah62513
Butler60427
DeKalb6025
Chambers58127
Tallapoosa56369
Autauga54511
Unassigned52025
Russell4840
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4446
Houston4344
Limestone4090
Cullman4003
Pike3995
Colbert3685
Bullock3629
Coffee3532
Barbour3231
Covington3087
St. Clair3042
Hale29321
Marengo28611
Wilcox2808
Sumter27612
Calhoun2705
Talladega2677
Clarke2665
Escambia2636
Dale2440
Jackson2382
Winston2333
Blount2141
Chilton2112
Pickens2116
Marion20312
Monroe1972
Choctaw19212
Conecuh1804
Bibb1711
Macon1708
Randolph1709
Greene1667
Perry1451
Henry1303
Crenshaw1233
Lawrence1010
Washington1007
Cherokee747
Lamar711
Fayette671
Geneva670
Clay582
Coosa551
Cleburne291
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 92°
Columbus
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 83°
Oxford
Broken Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 97°
Starkville
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 82°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather