Intel chief: U.S. ‘is under attack’
WASHINGTON – The nation’s top intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia is targeting the 2018 elections, seeking to undermine America’s political process and sow partisan division with cyberattacks and other digital disruption.
“Frankly, the United States is under attack,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee. Russia is attempting to “degrade our democratic values and weaken our alliances,” he said.
Coats said Russian President Vladimir Putin was emboldened by Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential elections.
“There should be no doubt that (Putin) views the past effort as successful,” said Coats, who was joined by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
The national intelligence director’s comments came against the backdrop of congressional and criminal investigations into Russia’s alleged interference in the presidential election and whether the Kremlin coordinated its activities with Donald Trump’s campaign.
Coats and the officials each affirmed an assessment by the entire intelligence community in 2016 that concluded that Russia interfered in the election and has not relented in a strategy to undermine elections.
“This is not going to change or stop,” Rogers said.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chairman of the Senate panel, which is in the midst of Congress’ most far-reaching inquiry into Russia’s activities, said the country remains vulnerable more than a year later.
“We still don’t have a comprehensive plan,” Warner said, referring to a strategy to guard the nation’s political process from intrusions. “We’re no better prepared than we were in 2016.
“This threat, I believe, demands a whole-of-government response,” he said.