U.S. President Donald Trump's national security team said on Thursday that Russia is behind "pervasive" attempts to interfere in upcoming U.S. elections, in a rejection of denials of meddling that Russian President Vladimir Putin made directly to Trump.
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee who has criticized Trump for not taking a stronger leadership role on election security, said he was heartened by the White House news conference.
The U.S. intelligence community remains concerned about election security, and Russian Federation is still trying to interfere in American elections, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said on Thursday.
During the rally in Pennsylvania on Thursday, Trump did not mention allegations of interference or attacks on the United States democratic process.
President Donald Trump set tongues wagging last week, tweeting that Russian Federation might be "pushing very hard for the Democrats" in the midterms, given his "tough" policies towards Moscow. "Nonetheless, we have offered to do before and continue to offer briefings to members of Congress in secure facilities", Bolton told reporters today.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also discussed the threat, saying free and fair elections are the cornerstone of democracy.
"What we are seeing are the malign influence operations", Wray said.
The illegal activity includes criminal efforts to suppress voting and provide illegal campaign financing, cyber attacks against voting infrastructure along with computer intrusions targeting elected officials and others, US officials said.
Right before the briefing began, the White House released a letter Bolton sent to Senate Democrats about election interference.
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National Security Advisor John Bolton said President Trump has been very involved in the process to protect our elections.
None of the intelligence officials, however, would be more specific on any Russian activity or on US efforts to combat it.
"We know there are others who have the capability and may be considering influence activities", he said.
"The president has said other people also may have been involved in the efforts to interfere with the 2016 election", Karl said.
When it comes to electronic voting machines, DHS' Nielsen said that the focus is on helping states make sure their machines can be audited after elections.
She noted it's not "unreasonable" for election officials to ask for an ID.
If those reassurances were not enough, FBI chief Wray revealed that the bureau was working closely with social media and technology companies to provide them "actionable intelligence" in a way not done previously.
Mr Trump has insisted there was no collusion between his campaign and Russian Federation in an attempt to sway the 2016 election in his favour.