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Intel Heads Say Russia Will Interfere in 2018 Elections

by Countable | 3.9.18

What’s the story?

On Tuesday morning the Senate Intelligence Committee held their annual hearing on global threats. Questions and testimony focused primarily on Russian election interference, as well as accusations of political bias in the media and via the Nunes memo.

Among the officials testifying were Christopher Wray, FBI Director, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

In response to questions about the likelihood of Russian election interference in future elections, Coats testified, "There should be no doubt that Russia perceived its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations."

FBI Director Christopher Wray forcefully pushed back against accusations of political bias within the agency:

"It is the finest group of professionals and public servants I could hope to work for. Many times a day I’m confronted with unbelievable examples of integrity and professionalism and grit. There are 37,000 people in the FBI who do unbelievable things around the world, and you’d never know it from watching the news, but we actually have more than two investigations and most of them do a lot to keep Americans safe."

He also cast doubt on the memo released by the House Intelligence Committee, authored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and his staff, that alleged political bias fueled the FBI’s investigation into former Trump campaign staffer Carter Page:

"We provided thousands of documents that were very sensitive and lots of briefings and it’s very hard for anybody to distill all of that into 3 1/2 pages."

Multiple officials warned of threats from North Korea. Director Coats testified that they expect more missile tests to occur in the future, and that North Korea is unlikely to give up their nuclear capability:

"Pyongyang has repeatedly stated that it does not intend to negotiate its nuclear weapons and missiles away because the regime views nuclear weapons are critical to its security…In the wake of its ICBM tests last year, we expect to see North Korea to press ahead with additional missile tests this year and its foreign minister has threatened an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific."

Officials were also questioned on the details of issues with security clearances for White House staff in light of the recent scandal surrounding former aide Rob Porter. Coats testified regarding interim security clearances, such as Porter had, and that he believes the security clearance system is in need of reform:

"I might just say that, I think sometimes it is necessary to have some type of preliminary clearance in order to fill a spot. But I have publicly stated if that is the case, the access has to be limited in terms of the kind of information they can be in a position to receive or not receive. So I think that is something that we have to do as a part of our security clearance review…The process is broken. It needs to be reformed."

What do you think?

Were you surprised by any of the testimony? Did the committee cover all the questions you hoped the would? What do you see as the most significant global threat facing the United States at this point, and is the government doing enough to combat it?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: One America News via Twitter )

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