Russian meddling: US intelligence heads warn ′Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs′ | News | DW | 02.08.2018
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Russian meddling: US intelligence heads warn 'Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs'

The leaders of the US intelligence community have gathered at the White House to present a united front. Donald Trump has faced massive criticism for failing to act on Russian election interference.

The United States government has warned that Russia is conducting "information warfare" ahead of US midterm elections, and officials say they have assembled a "vast, government-wide effort" to counteract interference.

US President Donald Trump has faced bipartisan criticism that the country remains exposed to election meddling as he fails to act on the issue.

Read more: European Commission warns of 'fake news,' meddling in 2019 European elections

What was announced

The heads of national intelligence, Homeland Security, the National Security Agency and the FBI appeared alongside each other to assure the public they were acting against meddling.

  • They said Russia was still attempting to undermine US democracy through various means.
  • They said Russia was attempting to disseminate false information, suppress voting and provide illegal campaign financing, and commit cyber attacks against voting infrastructure, elected officials and others.
  • Intelligence agencies will now share classified information with social media networks to combat such attempts.
  • They are conducting investigations into foreign interference.
  • There will be a stronger focus on sharing signs of possible interference with state and local partners.

What they said

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said: "We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States."

FBI Director Christopher Wray said: "This is not just an election cycle threat. Our adversaries are trying to undermine our country on a persistent and regular basis, whether it's election season or not."

Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen said: "Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs."

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Donald Trump draws fierce criticism after Putin summit

Counteracting Trump's ambivalence

Although scant on details, the collective warning runs counter to Trump's repeated downplaying of Russian interference in his election victory. The assembly of the leaders of the US intelligence community, all stressing Russian interference attempts, came soon after Trump was forced to retract statements that undermined their conclusions.

Read more: Donald Trump supporters shrug off Putin summit scandal

aw/kms (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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