Foreign Influence Investigations Spanning U.S. to Confront Election Threat

Russian efforts to interfere in upcoming USA midterm elections have yet to reach the intensity of the Kremlin's campaign to disrupt the 2016 presidential vote, but they're only "a keyboard click away" from a more serious attack, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said.

To drive the point home, leaders from four USA intelligence agencies and John Bolton, President Donald Trump's national security adviser, addressed Russian election influence campaigns at a press briefing Thursday.

But Coats, Bolton, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and the director of the National Security Agency, Paul Nakasone, said Russian Federation was to blame, along with other foreign actors.

'We see Russians are looking for every opportunity, regardless of party, regardless of whether or not it applies to the election to continue their pervasive efforts to undermined the fundamental values, ' Coats said.

There have always been allegations that the Russian government intervened in the 2016 US Presidential Election to help Trump. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russian Federation than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. Pavel Palazhchenko was a constant presence as chief interpreter for Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, and watched from Moscow to see how the latest chapter in the US-Soviet story would unfold.

Trump also increased US military spending in part to counter Russian aggression, according to Stewart. "We're not going to accept meddling in the elections", Nakasone said.

Ms Nielsen said: "Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs".

Donald Trump on Wednesday told his attorney general to end the high-profile investigation into Russian election meddling that has ensnared key members of his presidential campaign and cast a long shadow over his White House.

The illegal activity includes criminal efforts to suppress voting and provide illegal campaign financing, cyberattacks against voting infrastructure along with computer intrusions targeting elected officials and others, Coats and the other officials said.

The US government on Thursday accused Russian Federation of carrying out a "pervasive" campaign to influence public opinion and elections, in a warning just months before crucial legislative polls. Stewart added Trump was wrong when he sided more with Putin than the US intelligence community about Russian interference in elections, and wishes his corrections were more forceful.

"This is not just an election cycle threat", Wray said. "Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy".

When it comes to electronic voting machines, DHS' Nielsen said that the focus is on helping states make sure their machines can be audited after elections.

Mr Trump has insisted there was no collusion between his campaign and Russian Federation in an attempt to sway the 2016 election in his favour.

  • Jon Douglas