US officials raise alarm about election interference ahead of midterms

03 August, 2018, 13:18 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions

"We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russian Federation to try to weaken and divide the United States", Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said.

President Donald Trump introduced a new lie to his repertoire Thursday night at a campaign in Pennsylvania, even as he attacked the media for supposedly spreading lies about him.

Bolton said Thursday that Trump is "leading unprecedented action to punish Russia" for its efforts to disrupt American elections. "This includes measures to heighten the security and resilience of election systems and processes, to confront Russian and other foreign malign influence in the United States, to confront such aggression through global action, and to reinforce a strong sanctions regime".

"We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russian Federation to try to weaken and divide the United States", said Coats, while noting that Russia's efforts on the 2018 midterms are "not the kind of robust campaign we assessed during the 2016 election".

'Our focus here today is simply to tell the American people we acknowledge the threat.

"Not a single vote was changed, so far as we can tell", he said.

"Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and it has become clear that they have become the target of our adversaries".

He was followed by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, as well as FBI Director Christopher Wray and NSA Director Paul Nakasone.

The relationship between Sessions and the president has been strained for more than a year, since the attorney general recused himself from investigations relating to the 2016 election because of Sessions' role on the Trump campaign.

More news: What you need to know before Paul Manafort’s trial

When asked at the summit if he preferred a Trump victory in 2016, Putin responded: "Yes, I did".

And Thursday's briefing came on the third day of the trial of Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager who used to work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine and has been charged with tax and bank fraud on some of those earnings.

Mr Mueller - a respected former Federal Bureau of Investigation director - is investigating whether the Trump campaign aided or abetted an attempt by Russian Federation to sway the 2016 presidential election, or tried to cover up the conspiracy. Trump very much wants the former mayor out there, but that spawns endless cable segments debating what he said (such as denying a pre-meeting before the Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer when no one was talking about whether there was one).

"When you look at this administration's actions, they have been clearly willing to confront Vladimir Putin", Stewart, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a speech to the Sutherland Institute, and during follow-up questions.

"What we are seeing are the malign influence operations", Wray said.

Of course, Russian Federation did interfere, but "we don't have any evidence at all that they were able to penetrate any voting machines".

"They wanted to see a boxing match..."

None of the intelligence officials, however, would be more specific on any Russian activity or on US efforts to combat it.

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