U.S. intelligence agencies expect Russia to ramp up its efforts to meddle in the U.S. political system through hacking and social media manipulation, according to a worldwide threat assessment released Tuesday morning.
“Foreign elections are critical inflection points that offer opportunities for Russia to advance its interests both overtly and covertly,” says the assessment. “The 2018 U.S. midterm elections are a potential target for Russian influence operations.”
The nation’s intelligence chiefs presented their view of the top threats confronting the nation before the Senate intelligence committee, where faced tough questioning about whether the Trump administration is responding adequately to the Russian efforts.
And remember that our president often still won’t admit that Russia even meddled in the 2016 elections. Meanwhile, intelligence officials told Congress today that Russia certainly sees its meddling as a success.
* Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris report that the FBI director is giving the White House more headaches related to the Rob Porter mess:
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray on Tuesday contradicted the White House’s account of when the bureau informed officials about the status of a senior aide’s security-clearance investigation.
White House officials said that they were first contacted in the summer by the FBI about senior aide Rob Porter’s clearance. They also said that the investigation was never completed and that they did not know the extent of the allegations against Porter. He stepped down last week after accusations of spousal abuse by his two ex-wives.
But Wray, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the FBI submitted a partial report on his clearance in March and that the investigation was completed in July. Soon after, he said, the FBI received a request for a follow-up, which the bureau completed and provided in November. The FBI closed the file in January and then earlier this month, Wray said, the bureau received additional information and “we passed that on as well.”
“I am quite confident that in this instance, the FBI followed established” protocols, Wray said, speaking at the committee’s annual worldwide-threats hearing.
See, this is what happens when you tell five different stories about what you did: you can’t count on other people to back you up.
* Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak report that just before Porter resigned — and, to be clear, long after White House officials knew about the allegations of domestic abuse — he was about to be promoted.
* Alexia Fernández Campbell reports that in the last year Trump properties posted openings for 144 seasonal workers but managed to hire only one American. Man just wait until our America First president hears about this.
* John Wagner reports that while the Trump administration is proposing to spend $200 billion on infrastructure, Democrats looked through the budget proposal they just released and found $240 billion in cuts to, you guessed it, infrastructure.
* And Nancy LeTourneau tells the story of how Sean Hannity beclowned himself even more than usual today.