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U.S. intelligence chiefs warn Congress of 2018 Russian threat to elections

U.S. security chiefs testify before Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on "worldwide threats" on Capitol Hill in Washington

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray; Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo; Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats; Defense Intelligence Agency Director Robert Ashley; National Security Agency (NSA) Director Michael Rogers; and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo testify before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on “World Wide Threats” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

On Tuesday the top United States intelligence chief’s warned Congress that Russian influence operations aimed towards the 2018 elections have already begun and are likely to continue.

Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, told members of the U.S. Senate intelligence committee the Russian government views their past efforts as successful, and plans to make the 2018 mid-term elections a potential target.

“There should be no doubt that Russia perceived that its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian midterm operations,” Coats said.

The annual hearing on “worldwide threats” held by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence took place on Tuesday, covering everything from Russian influence threats to North Korea.

“The risk of inter-state conflict is higher than any time since the Cold War,” Coats told senators in his opening statement.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, FBI Director Christopher Wray and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers were also answering questions from congressional lawmakers along with the heads of the Defense Intelligence Agency and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley and Robert Cardillo.

All of them were asked if they would restate their support for the 2017 report that concluded Russia attempted to interfere with the 2016 presidential elections, all of them did.

Top U.S. intelligence officials also told members of the congressional committee that North Korea will not give up their nuclear weapons and Americans should not fall for the communist regime’s recent charm offensive.

“North Korea continues to pose an ever-more increasing threat to the United States and its interests,” Coats said.  “Pyongyang has repeatedly stated that it does not intend to negotiate its nuclear weapons and missiles away.”

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said the North Korean leader’s sister “is the head of the propaganda and agitation department.”

“There’s no indication of any strategic change in the outlook for Kim Jong Un and his desire to retain his nuclear capacity to threaten the United States of America,” Pompeo said.

(Written & Edited by Bart Charles Begley)

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