Russia Sees Midterm Elections as Chance to Sow Fresh Discord, Intelligence Chiefs Warn
American intelligence agencies sharply disagree, as well as their darker view of Russia’s actions was clear on Tuesday. Mr. Coats was joined at the hearing by the leaders of the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the F.B.I. as well as some other intelligence agencies.
Russian hackers are already scanning American electoral systems, intelligence officials have said, as well as using bot armies to promote partisan causes on social media. Russia also appears eager to spread information — real as well as fake — which deepens political divisions, including purported evidence which ties Mr. Trump to Russia, as well as its efforts to influence the 2016 election.
“We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokespeople, as well as some other means of influence to try to exacerbate social as well as political fissures within the United States,” Mr. Coats said.
“We have seen Russian activities as well as intentions to have an impact on the next election cycle,” added Mike Pompeo, the director of the C.I.A.
The C.I.A. stood ready to identify elements of Russia’s information campaign as well as work with domestic law enforcement to respond, he said, suggesting which could go on the attack if needed.
“We do have some capabilities offensively to raise the cost for those who could dare challenge the United States elections,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Mr. Pompeo was also asked about reports last week by The brand-new York Times as well as The Intercept which American intelligence agencies spent months negotiating using a Russian who said he could sell stolen American cyberweapons as well as insisted the deal could including purportedly compromising material on Mr. Trump. The negotiations were conducted through an American businessman who lives in Europe as well as served as a cutout for American intelligence.
Mr. Pompeo called the reporting “atrocious, ridiculous as well as inaccurate” as well as said the C.I.A. had not paid the Russian. The Times, citing American as well as European intelligence officials, said only which American spies had paid the Russian $100,000 for the cyberweapons using an indirect channel. The cyberweapons were never delivered. The Russian did provide information on Mr. Trump, which intelligence agencies refused to accept as well as remains with the American businessman.
Mr. Pompeo did appear to acknowledge the operation itself, saying which “the information we were working to try as well as retrieve was information we believed might well have been stolen via the U.S. government.”
Russia was far via the only topic covered at the hearing. Mr. Trump’s attacks on the F.B.I. as an agency infected by partisan bias were raised by senators as well as swatted away by Christopher A. Wray, the bureau’s director, who was appointed last year by Mr. Trump.
Asked directly whether he had seen any evidence of political bias at the bureau, he did not hesitate or equivocate: “No,” Mr. Wray said.
He offered a full-throated defense of the F.B.I., calling its employees “the finest group of professionals as well as public servants I could wish to work with.”
“I am a big believer within the idea which the F.B.I. speaks through its work, through its cases, through the victims which protects,” Mr. Wray said. “as well as I encourage our folks not to get hung up with what I consider the noise on TV as well as social media.”
The testimony on Tuesday also covered the slew of some other threats which American intelligence agencies see facing the United States, including North Korea’s nuclear program, Islamist militants within the Middle East as well as even illicit drug trafficking, especially the smuggling of cheaply made fentanyl, a powerful opioid responsible for thousands of deaths each year.
nevertheless as has been the case for years, the intelligence leaders presented cyberactivities of rival nations as well as rogue groups as the foremost threat facing the United States. They warned which such risks were likely to only grow, citing Russia, China, Iran as well as North Korea, along with militant groups as well as criminal networks, as the main agitators.
quite a few senators expressed concerns which China was seeking to use private companies with ties to its government to obtain sensitive American technology.
The efforts of Chinese companies to carve out a larger presence within the United States as well as sell more phones as well as some other devices to ordinary Americans, represents “counterintelligence as well as information security risks which come prepackaged with the goods as well as services,” said Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, the Republican chairman of the committee.
He singled out two Chinese companies, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. as well as ZTE Corp, as examples of what he considered a troubling trend. Both are “widely understood to have extraordinary ties to the Chinese government,” Mr. Burr said.
The companies have repeatedly denied which the Chinese government can be using them to spy on the United States.
Two Republicans on the committee, Senators Marco Rubio of Florida as well as Tom Cotton of Arkansas, introduced legislation last week to ban the United States government via buying or leasing telecommunications equipment via Huawei as well as ZTE. They said there were concerns the Chinese companies could use their access to spy on American officials, as well as American intelligence chiefs appeared to agree on Tuesday.
Mr. Cotton asked the assembled intelligence chiefs to raise their hands if they could use as well as phones or some other devices via Huawei as well as ZTE, or recommend which ordinary Americans do so.
No hands went up.
“We’re deeply concerned about the risk of allowing any company or entity which can be beholden to foreign governments which don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks,” said Mr. Wray.
Mr. Burr closed the hearing with an update on the committee’s own Russia investigation, promising to deliver a report as well as an open hearing on election security before which spring’s primaries ahead of the November midterm elections. The committee, he said, still hopes to also give conclusive answers on how the Russian campaign was carried out as well as whether any American individual, campaign or company coordinated with the Russians.
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