Director of National Intelligence: Russian interference in US political system ongoing

A handful of top US national security officials said Thursday that Russia is continuing to pursue its effort...

Posted: Aug 3, 2018 9:53 AM
Updated: Aug 3, 2018 9:53 AM

A handful of top US national security officials said Thursday that Russia is continuing to pursue its efforts to interfere in the US political system and said President Donald Trump has directed them to make countering election interference a top priority.

"We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States," Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Thursday from the White House briefing room. "The President has specifically directed us to make the matter of election meddling and securing our election process a top priority."

2016 Presidential election

Continents and regions

Dan Coats

Donald Trump

Eastern Europe

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

Europe

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government departments and authorities

Government organizations - US

Intelligence services

International relations and national security

Investigations

National security

North America

Political candidates

Political Figures - Intl

Political Figures - US

Politics

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

The Americas

United States

US Cabinet

US federal departments and agencies

US Federal elections

US federal government

US government independent agencies

US intelligence agencies

US Presidential elections

Vladimir Putin

White House

Christopher Wray

National Security Agency

Robert Mueller

The top officials' presence in the White House briefing room amounted to the administration's most significant effort to date to convey that a whole of government effort is being undertaken to combat Russian attacks on US democracy, which Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said is "in the crosshairs."

"Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy, and it has become clear that they are the target of our adversaries who seek ... to sow discord and undermine our way of life," Nielsen said.

A Cabinet official who wasn't present at Thursday's briefing weighed in on efforts to counteract Russian meddling in the upcoming elections.

"We, the Department of Defense, are taking active measures to protect election security including monitoring our adversaries," Defense Secretary James Mattis told a small group of reporters at the Pentagon.

Mattis' comments were not directly related to the scorching criticism Republicans and Democrats have unleashed on the President following his refusal to back the US intelligence community's conclusions about Russian interference in the 2016 election over Russian President Vladimir Putin's denials.

Trump has since reaffirmed his confidence in the US intelligence assessment, but his absence from the briefing room on Thursday and his ongoing branding of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation as a "witch hunt" have only kept alive questions about whether Trump is serious about confronting ongoing Russian interference.

That cognitive dissonance was on display during the briefing Thursday as Coats, national security adviser John Bolton and FBI Director Chris Wray were pressed about contradictions in the administration's messaging and the President's.

"I think 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 and that he supports them fully," Bolton said, adding that Trump opened his private meeting with Putin by raising election interference.

Still, Coats said he is "not in a position to either understand fully or talk about what happened in Helsinki," despite being one of the US's top intelligence officials.

Wray, meanwhile, fielded a question about Trump and his administration's ongoing attacks on the Mueller investigation and on the FBI.

"I can assure the American people that the men and women of the FBI, starting from the director, all the way on down, are going to follow our oaths and do our jobs," Wray said, standing feet away from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who on Wednesday claimed "corruption and dishonesty" within the FBI.

Coats, Nielsen, Wray and Bolton were also joined by Gen. Paul Nakasone, the head of the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command, who said the US is prepared "to conduct operations" against cyber actors attempting to undermine US democracy.

But the overwhelming message from the officials was to demonstrate that the Trump administration is on guard as the 2018 midterms approach, particularly in the wake of Trump's ambivalence and reports that US intelligence officials had yet to receive adequate guidance on priorities from the White House.

"The intelligence community continues to be concerned about the threats of upcoming US elections, both the midterms and the presidential elections of 2020," Coats said. "Our focus here today is simply to tell the American people we acknowledge the threat, it is real, it is continuing and we are doing everything we can to have a legitimate election that the American people can have trust in."

Coats said that while Russian efforts to influence and drive a wedge in US democracy are "pervasive" and "ongoing," he said that US intelligence so far believes the Russian influence campaign is less robust than in 2016.

"It is not the kind of robust campaign that we assessed in the 2016 election," Coats said. "They stepped up their game big time in 2016. We have not seen that kind of robust effort from them so far."

But he added a word of caution: "We're only one keyboard click away from finding out something we haven't seen at this point in time, but right now we have not seen that."

Coats also said Thursday that while Russia is continuing to interfere in the US, other countries also have "an interest in trying to influence our domestic political environment."

"We know that there are others who have the capability," Coats said. "We will continue to monitor and warn of any such efforts."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 40163

Reported Deaths: 1528
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12867789
Ramsey5066230
Dakota252494
Stearns244819
Anoka2328111
Nobles16766
Olmsted119617
Washington119040
Mower9722
Rice8628
Scott8034
Clay59838
Kandiyohi5841
Blue Earth5352
Wright5055
Carver4331
Todd4022
Sherburne3405
Lyon3312
Freeborn3020
Watonwan2420
Steele2401
Benton2283
St. Louis20316
Nicollet18712
Martin1715
Cottonwood1380
Goodhue1378
Winona13315
Le Sueur1171
Pine1110
Crow Wing10812
Chisago1031
Otter Tail1021
McLeod960
Dodge930
Carlton890
Polk863
Unassigned8438
Chippewa791
Isanti780
Waseca730
Itasca6812
Douglas670
Murray670
Pipestone664
Meeker621
Morrison611
Faribault600
Becker570
Jackson570
Sibley562
Pennington530
Beltrami410
Brown392
Renville372
Mille Lacs342
Wabasha340
Rock310
Yellow Medicine310
Fillmore300
Houston290
Swift251
Grant220
Norman210
Redwood210
Wilkin213
Cass192
Roseau190
Big Stone170
Koochiching171
Kanabec161
Wadena160
Aitkin150
Marshall120
Pope120
Lincoln110
Clearwater100
Mahnomen101
Hubbard80
Stevens80
Lake60
Traverse60
Lac qui Parle40
Red Lake40
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 33162

Reported Deaths: 740
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6990182
Woodbury328243
Black Hawk239759
Buena Vista172711
Johnson13848
Linn134183
Dallas133031
Marshall106819
Scott92610
Dubuque83422
Story8254
Pottawattamie78012
Wapello71231
Muscatine68344
Crawford6793
Sioux4930
Tama47829
Wright3891
Louisa36313
Plymouth3365
Jasper33217
Warren3001
Dickinson2853
Webster2844
Washington2489
Cerro Gordo2231
Hamilton1931
Boone1601
Clay1431
Clarke1403
Allamakee1354
Clinton1211
Mahaska11817
Shelby1180
Poweshiek1088
Carroll1041
Pocahontas1041
Bremer1027
Franklin990
Des Moines952
Emmet920
Henry903
Hardin880
Cedar851
Cherokee811
Taylor810
Monona770
Marion750
Floyd742
Benton721
Guthrie724
Jones680
Sac650
Osceola640
Iowa621
Jefferson620
Buchanan611
Butler602
Humboldt591
Calhoun582
Hancock571
Harrison560
Delaware541
Fayette540
Lee542
Madison512
Monroe517
Jackson480
Lyon480
Clayton473
Mills460
Palo Alto460
Mitchell430
Winneshiek430
Davis421
Grundy420
Kossuth390
Howard370
Union370
Lucas324
Winnebago310
Chickasaw290
Greene290
Cass270
Ida230
Unassigned220
Appanoose213
Van Buren210
Worth210
Keokuk201
Page200
Adair160
Audubon161
Ringgold151
Decatur120
Montgomery112
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont80
Rochester
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 66°
Mason City
Few Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 70°
Albert Lea
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 70°
Austin
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 70°
Charles City
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 68°
Cooler air finally filtering in, rain chance returns Saturday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Connecting with a loved one with dementia during the pandemic

Image

Bruins set to host all-star game

Image

COVID-19 Cases Expected to Spike in North Iowa

Image

Training hard for a season that might not happen

Image

Sean's 6pm Weather 7/10

Image

Sweet Corn season kickoff

Image

Getting caught in the act

Image

Forum tomorrow: educating young voters

Image

Donation to Channel One Food Bank

Image

Concern over spread of COVID-19 downtown

Community Events