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US 2018 elections 'under attack' by Russia: intelligence chief

14 February 2018

Coats said, "There should be no doubt that Russia perceived its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 USA midterm elections as a potential target for Russian midterm operations".

"North Korea continues to pose an ever-more increasing threat to the United States and its interests", Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats told a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's annual hearing on worldwide threats.

Asked about Pyongyang's nuclear program, Coats said "this is an existential threat, potentially to the United States, but also to North Korea".

"We expect Russian Federation to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen and other means to influence, to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States", Coats added.

The nation's top intelligence chiefs were united Tuesday in declaring that Russian Federation is continuing efforts to disrupt the USA political system and is targeting the 2018 midterm election, following its successful operation to sow discord in the most recent presidential campaign.

"The president has made very clear we have an obligation from our perspective from the foreign intelligence perspective to do everything we can the make sure there is a deep and thorough understanding of every threat including threats from Russian Federation", said CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

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Under questioning from Maine Senator Susan Collins about the President's attacks on the FBI, FBI director Christopher Wray said, "It's the finest group of professionals and public servants I could hope to work for".

USA intelligence agencies concluded previous year that Moscow sought to influence the 2016 presidential campaign in favor of then-Republican candidate Donald Trump.

"That this is going to happen, and the resilience needed for us to stand up and say, 'We're not going to allow some Russian to tell us how to vote, how we ought to run our country.' And I think there needs to be a national cry for that".

King contrasted that with the frequent denials and equivocations about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election by President Trump and the White House, which King said have led to a major disparity in belief around the country.

Russian hackers are already scanning USA electoral systems, intelligence officials have said, and using bot armies to promote partisan causes on social media.

Trump has steadfastly denied any collusion took place.

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"The failure to address our long-term fiscal situation has increased the national debt to over 20 trillion (dollars) and growing", Coats said.

King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the attacks on USA democracy will continue. He hasn't even tweeted a single concern.

Pompeo added: "Sen. Reed, we have a significant effort".

So the next milestone in the inquiry into Russian election interference - at least in the Senate - could be the release of the intelligence committee's long-awaited report finally giving the full story about what happened in 2016. "The Russians have a strategy that goes well beyond what is happening in the United States".

The companies have repeatedly denied that the Chinese government is using them to spy on the United States.

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (left) and Chairman Richard Burr confer Tuesday after a hearing on worldwide threats, includin.

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US 2018 elections 'under attack' by Russia: intelligence chief