President Trump’s Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats publicly broke with the president on Tuesday during a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, telling lawmakers “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.”
Coats also warned lawmakers that Moscow is “likely to pursue even more aggressive cyberattacks” against future elections in an effort to undermine U.S. democracy.
Moscow will look to “use elections as opportunities to undermine democracy, sow discord and undermine our values,” Coats said.
Coats along with FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers, all reaffirmed their confidence in the intelligence community’s assessment that Russian interfered in the 2016 election.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats says "there should be no doubt" Russia sees the 2018 midterm elections as a "potential target for Russian influence operations" pic.twitter.com/WAhs9TWKcV
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) February 13, 2018
FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers that the FBI is currently working to counter Russian influence activities, but efforts were not “specifically directed by the president.”
FBI Dir. Wray says bureau is working to counter Russian influence activities, but efforts were not "specifically directed by the president." pic.twitter.com/UjhOPxDgwN
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) February 13, 2018
“This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won,” said President Donald Trump in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt in May.
On Twitter in September, Trump said, “The Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook. What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?”
And during an overseas trip to Asia in November, Trump spoke of meeting with Putin: “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.” In the same interview, Trump referred to the officials who led the intelligence agencies during the election as “political hacks.”