US intelligence officials including Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, national security adviser John Bolton, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone appeared together during the White House press briefing where they said they were working with state and local election officials to protect voting systems from threats by Russian Federation and other foreign actors.
To drive the point home, leaders from four United States intelligence agencies and John Bolton, President Donald Trump's national security adviser, addressed Russian election influence campaigns at a press briefing Thursday.
'We see Russians are looking for every opportunity, regardless of party, regardless of whether or not it applies to the election to continue their pervasive efforts to undermined the fundamental values, ' Coats said.
Top U.S. intelligence and Homeland Security officials took questions from the media Thursday as they raised the alarm about potential efforts to influence the 2018 and 2020 elections.
He was followed by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, as well as FBI Director Christopher Wray and NSA Director Paul Nakasone.
Mr Coats said: "Our focus here today is simply to tell the American people we acknowledge the threat".
It has been nearly three weeks since President Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki for two hours, and we still have very little idea what they spoke about. Citing three people briefed on the matter, The New York Times reported last month that Mueller is reviewing Trump's tweets as well as "negative statements" made by the President related to the attorney general and former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey, whom Trump abruptly fired a year ago.
Interested in White House?We haven't seen that robust effort from them so far, ' Coats said.
The Director said they "subsequently made the determination to make this a top priority, that it doesn't happen again".
That effort includes three pillars: 1) investigations and operations; 2) information and intelligence sharing, working with global partners to combat threats; and 3) establish strong relationships with the private sector, providing actionable intelligence to technology companies, and meeting with top social media executives "so they can better monitor their own platforms".
After Trump on Wednesday tweeted that Sessions should shut down Mueller's probe, even though the attorney general had recused himself from the matter, the president's lawyers insisted he was just stating an opinion and not issuing an order.
He wrote: "We have already have a smoking gun about a campaign getting dirt on their opponent, it was Hillary Clinton".
Karl also pointed to President Trump's claims that the Russians would attempt to boost Democrats in the midterms and questioned if there "has been any evidence whatsoever that". Now states make their own rules.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders echoed that interpretation, telling reporters Trump "wants to see it come to an end as he has stated many times and we look forward to that happening".
She noted it's not "unreasonable" for election officials to ask for an ID.