Democrats furious Trump didn't tell NSA chief to fight Russian meddling

A top intelligence official said Tuesday that the U.S. is "probably not doing enough" to combat Russian attempts to interfere in American elections — prompting the fury of several Democratic lawmakers — and acknowledged that he'd not been directed by President Donald Trump to stop meddling by Moscow.

At a U.S. Cyber Command hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Admiral Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, said he had not been given the authority by Trump, or Defense Secretary James Mattis, his direct boss, to strike at Russian cyber operations against the U.S.

Rogers admitted Russian President Vladimir Putin had likely concluded there was "little price" to pay for attempting to disrupt U.S. elections.

Democrats slammed Rogers’ assessment, imploring him to do more and ripping into the White House for not having directed a stronger counter-effort against the cyber-meddling.

"The notion they came after this, brazenly, and that nobody can sit in that chair and say, 'We got this…the notion you have not been given this mission to stop this from happening this year, is outrageous," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

RELATED: Key Trump officials, advisers of note in the Russia probe

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Key Trump officials, advisers of note in the Russia probe
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Key Trump officials, advisers of note in the Russia probe

Tom Barrack

The close friend to Donald Trump and CEO of private equity firm Colony Capital recommended that Trump bring in Paul Manafort for his presidential campaign.

R. James Woolsey

Woolsey, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), has cooperated with Mueller's investigation and worked with Michael Flynn and was present at a meeting where they discussed removing the controversial Turkish Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen from US soil. 

(Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The former senior Trump campaign official and White House adviser was present and crucial during the firings of Michael Flynn and James Comey.

The former head of the Trump transition team following the 2016 election has said previously that he believes he was fired due to his opposing the hiring of Michael Flynn as national security adviser.

Jeff Sessions

Former U.S. senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama joined Trump's campaign as a foreign policy adviser in February 2016. Sessions was nominated to be U.S. attorney general by President Trump and was then confirmed by the Senate. Reports then emerged that Sessions had spoken twice with Sergey Kislyak while he was senator -- a fact that he left out of his Senate hearing testimony. Instead, he said in writing that he had not communicated with any Russian officials during the campaign season. Sessions defended himself saying he had spoken with Kislyak specifically in a senate capacity.

Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort signed on as Donald Trump's campaign manager in March 2016. A longtime Republican strategist and beltway operative, Manafort had previously served as an adviser to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich -- a pro-Russia leader who was violently ousted in 2014. Manafort resigned from his campaign position in August 2016 amid questions over his lobbying history in Ukraine for an administration supportive of Russia. The former campaign manager reportedly remained in Trump's circle during the post-election transition period.

Michael Flynn

Gen. Michael Flynn was named President Trump's national security adviser in November of 2016. Flynn reportedly met and spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December, at one point discussing sanctions. Flynn originally told Vice President Pence he did not discuss sanctions -- a point the Department of Justice said made the national security adviser subject to blackmail. Flynn resigned from his position in February.

Donald Trump

2016 election winner Donald Trump is at the center of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russia's handlings.

Sam Clovis

Clovis, a former member of the Trump campaign, arrives on at the U.S. Capitol December 12, 2017 to appear before a closed meeting of the House Intelligence Committee. Clovis worked with George Papadopoulos, a former Donald Trump campaign foreign policy advisor who struck a plea deal on charges of lying to the FBI.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Roger Stone

Stone is a longtime Republican political consultant who served as a campaign adviser to Trump who continued to talk with the then-GOP candidate after stepping away from his adviser role. Stone claimed last year that he had knowledge of the planned WikiLeaks release of emails pertaining to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. Stone recently admitted to speaking via direct message with "Guccifer 2.0" -- an online entity U.S. officials believe is tied to Russia. Stone says the correspondence was “completely innocuous.”

Carter Page

Page worked for Merrill Lynch as an investment banker out of their Moscow office for three years before joining Trump's campaign as a foreign policy adviser. During his time with Merrill Lynch, Page advised transactions for two major Russian entities. Page has called Washington "hypocritical" for focusing on corruption and democratization in addressing U.S. relations with Russia. While Page is someone Trump camp has seemingly tried to distance itself from, Page recently said he has made frequent visits to Trump Tower.

J.D. Gordon

Before Gordon joined the Trump campaign as a national security adviser in March 2016, he served as a Pentagon spokesman from 2005 through 2009. Like others involved in Trump-Russia allegations, Gordon met with ambassador Kislyak in July at the Republican National Convention, but has since denied any wrongdoing in their conversation. He advocated for and worked to revise the RNC language on and position toward Ukraine relations, so it was more friendly toward Russia's dealings in the country.

Former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo (L)

Caputo waves goodbye to reporters after he testified before the House Intelligence Committee during a closed-door session at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center July 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. Caputo resigned from being a Trump campaign communications advisor after appearing to celebrate the firing of former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Denying any contact with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign, Caputo did live in Moscow during the 1990s, served as an adviser to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and did pro-Putin public relations work for the Russian conglomerate Gazprom Media.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Stephen Miller, White House Senior Advisor for Policy

Jason Miller
Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer
Eric Trump
Donald Trump Jr.
Ivanka Trump
White House Senior adviser Jared Kushner
Executive assistant to Donald Trump Rhona Graff
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski
US Vice President Mike Pence
Katrina Pierson
K.T. McFarland
Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci
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McCaskill also asked whether the U.S. was "strong enough" and "smart enough" to prevent Russia from "doing this again."

Rogers replied, "We're taking steps but we're probably not doing enough," prompting another furious response from McCaskill.

"I want to know, why the hell not," she said. "What's it going to take?"

The tense hearing came just two weeks after special counsel Robert Mueller announced that 13 Russian nationals had been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of interfering in the 2016 presidential election — including on charges that they supported Trump's campaign with elaborate online and social media tactics.

The indictments — part of Mueller's ongoing investigation into Russian interference — were the first tied directly to Russian meddling in the race for the White House and the clearest evidence yet of Moscow's meddling.

Meanwhile, earlier at Tuesday’s hearing, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., asked Rogers whether he'd been "directed" to disrupt "Russian election hacking operation where they originate."

"No, I have not," Rogers responded, adding later that it "is probably fair to say that we have not opted to engage in some of the same behaviors that we are seeing."

During another strained exchange, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Rogers said he believed that Putin had come to the conclusion "there's little price" to pay for Russia’s meddling efforts and that the strongman was likely to continue the efforts.

"What I see on the cyber command side leads me to believe that if we don’t change the dynamic here that this is going to continue and 2016 won't be viewed as isolated,” Rogers said. "This is something that will be sustained over time."

Later Tuesday, the White House, responding to Rogers' assertion that Trump has not directed him to stop Russian meddling, said the administration didn't stop him from doing anything, either.

"Nobody is denying him the authority," Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

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