Russia is still trying to meddle in U.S. elections, FBI chief warns

Russia is still trying to meddle in American politics and the 2020 presidential election despite sanctions and other U.S. efforts to combat such threats, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned lawmakers on Tuesday.

“The Russians are absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections,” Wray said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. 

Wray’s remarks came a day ahead of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s highly anticipated testimony before Congress. Mueller will be grilled by lawmakers about his 448-page report, which laid out several possible cases where President Donald Trump may have obstructed justice and also accused Russia of launching a “sweeping and systematic” campaign of influence during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Trump has repeatedly shrugged off reports of Russian election meddling, even joking about it with Russian President Vladimir Putin at this year’s G-20 summit.

 

During Wray’s testimony on Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked the FBI chief whether it was “fair to say that everything we’ve done against Russia has not deterred them enough.”

“All the sanctions, all the talk, they’re still at it?” Graham asked, referring to Russia. 

“Yes,” Wray responded. “My view is until they stop they haven’t been deterred enough.”

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FBI Director nominee Christopher Wray sits during a meeting with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Christopher Wray testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be the next FBI director on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Christopher Wray, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the FBI, is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 27, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) meets with Christopher Wray, who U.S. President Donald Trump has nominated to be FBI Director, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Christopher Wray (L) is greeted by former Senator Sam Nunn as he arrives to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be the next FBI director on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Christopher Wray is sworn in prior to testifying before a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be the next FBI director on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Christopher Wray is seated prior to testifying before a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be the next FBI director on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 18: Christopher Wray, President Trump's nominee to lead the FBI walks through the Senate subway at the US Capitol on July 18, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13: U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) (L) meets with FBI Director nominee Christopher Wray (R) on Capitol Hill July 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. If confirmed, Wray will fill the position that has been left behind by former director James Comey who was fired by President Donald Trump about two months ago. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13: U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) (L) meets with FBI Director nominee Christopher Wray (R) on Capitol Hill July 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. If confirmed, Wray will fill the position that has been left behind by former director James Comey who was fired by President Donald Trump about two months ago. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 12: Christopher Wray, nominee for FBI Director, testifies during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on July 12, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 12: Christopher Wray, nominee for FBI Director, prepares for his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on July 12, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
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Wray told Graham that the FBI has “significant resources devoted” to thwarting foreign influence in the upcoming election and did not suggest the agency needed more funds or authority from Congress to address the issue.

But Senate and House Democrats later said Congress could and should be doing more to ramp up election security in other ways ― and took aim at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for repeatedly impeding congressional efforts to pass legislation aimed at improving election security.

“We have been warned in closed sessions about the Russian plans to corrupt this next election and they’re very specific,” Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said at a press conference. “What are we doing about it? The answer is: Nothing. The reason: Mitch McConnell.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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