White House working to prevent election meddling, top U.S. intel official says

Top intel official insists White House ‘engaged’ on Russian threat to midterms

Greg Nash

New sanctions against Russia is likely to be unveiled "within a week", and will include measures against the 13 Russians indicted last month in the special counsel's probe of election meddling, the nation's top intelligence official told USA senators on Tuesday.

The U.S. Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, spoke before a the U.S. Senate hearing on "Worldwide Threats" Tuesday, March 6, and had offered some specific testimony on China's activities recently, and some potential threats the country may present. "Sanctions are under consideration, and the Secretary of Treasury has indicated, I think as early as next week, he'll be listing some of those sanctions', the outlet wrote".

"We now face the most complex, volatile and challenging threat in modern times", said Coats.

Russian intelligence and security services are expected to continue to probe USA and allied critical infrastructures next year.

Russia has rejected playing any role in the US election, but the USA intelligence community has concluded it was personally directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Coats said some of the conflict is coming from a race for technological superiority, which could include the ability to build and use superior weapons, but also includes threats like cyber terrorism and election meddling.

He emphasized that the planned financial measures go "beyond" the 13 Russians, who were indicted by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who was named previous year by the Justice Department to lead an outside probe of Russian election meddling, including possible ties with Trump's campaign. "We're working with states and local election officials", he said. The indictment issued by the US special counsel charged them with running a huge but hidden social media trolling campaign aimed in part at helping Trump win. Putin said they didn't work on behalf of his government.

One of the main attackers, according to Coats, is Russian Federation.

Democrats also pressed Coats to explain why President Donald Trump hadn't authorised the intelligence community to do more to prevent Russian aggression. Coats said there were things the administration is doing, but they could only be discussed in a classified session. While the controversy has embroiled the president and many of his close associates in several congressional probes and the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, questions have lingered about whether the Trump administration is doing enough to punish Moscow and counter Russia's cyber operations.

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., said saying the administration is taking a "whole of government approach" is essentially saying "it's somebody else's job".

Trump's nominee to lead the National Security Agency, Lieutenant General Paul Nakasone, told Senate Armed Services he did not think Russian Federation expected much of a US response to cyber attacks.

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