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Top US Intel Officials Say Russia Still Carrying Out Election Interference

08-03-2018

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Thursday that Russia is continuing to pursue its efforts to interfere in the US political election system.

Coats and other top intelligence brass told CBN News in the White House briefing that stopping Russian interference is a top priority.

"We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States," Coats said. "The president has specifically directed us to make the matter of election meddling and securing our election process a top priority."

Coats also said that while Russia is continuing to meddle 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."

Coats' comments came during an unannounced briefing on election security that involved several top US national security and law enforcement officials.

In addition to Coats, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone and National Security Adviser John Bolton also joined White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in the briefing room on Thursday.

"Russia attempted to interfere with the last election," FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said, adding that Russian operatives were continuing to operate against the election system in "malign" ways. He said the United States government must face the threat with "fierce determination and focus."

Wray and other top national security officials did not describe specific threats to the coming elections, and they were vague in saying how the government was responding to what they called Russia's interference campaign.

"We acknowledge the threat. It is real. It is continuing," said Coats. "We are doing everything we can to have a legitimate election that everyone can have trust in."

He also said, "The intelligence community continues to be concerned about the threats of upcoming US elections, both the midterms and the presidential elections of 2020."

Bolton Sends Letter to Senate Democrats

Meanwhile, in a letter to Senate Democrats, Bolton said President Donald Trump is doing more to defend US elections from foreign influence than any previous administration, and he offered to hold classified briefings for Congress on the White House's efforts.

"President Trump has not and will not tolerate interference in America's system of representative government," Bolton wrote in the letter to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other Senate Democrats. 

"He has directed a vast, government-wide effort to protect electoral procedures and processes while investigating, prosecuting and holding accountable those who illegally attempt to interfere," he said.

The letter comes after Trump faced intense criticism for appearing to question his own intelligence agencies' assessment that Russia is continuing to target the United States ahead of the November midterms. 

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