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US intelligence leaders expect Russia to interfere in the November elections, like it did in 2016

Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's top intelligence adviser told senators on Tuesday that he expects Russia to mount an operation to influence U.S. voters in the November midterm elections, much as it did during the 2016 presidential campaign.

"We expect Russia 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," Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on global threats.

He added, "There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target."

CIA Director Mike Pompeo echoed Coats' concerns. Other Trump administration officials have raised similar warnings in recent weeks.

"If it's their intention to interfere, they are going to find ways to do that," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Fox News during a recent trip to Latin America. "We can take steps but ... it's very difficult to preempt it."

Trump has long derided a U.S. intelligence assessment last year that Russian meddling in the 2016 election was aimed, in part, at undermining Hillary Clinton and helping him win. Russia has denied interfering in the U.S. campaign.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is investigating whether the Trump campaign actively assisted the Russian operation, or if anyone in the White House obstructed justice during the investigation.

(c)2018 Los Angeles Times

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