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Tillerson: Russian vote meddling was 'hybrid warfare'

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a forum on US-South Korea relations at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC on December 12, 2017.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reiterated the official government position on the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, branding the move as an act of "hybrid warfare."

Tillerson made the comment in an end-of-year speech to State Department staff on Tuesday, further accusing Moscow of meddling in other countries’ affairs.

"Russia chose through hybrid warfare to interfere in democratic processes here and then has done so in other countries as well," he said.

Stressing that it is important for Washington and Moscow to have a "productive relationship," Tillerson said, "But today, that's not the case and we all know why.”

American intelligence agencies claimed in January that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election to try to help then Republican candidate Donald Trump defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The intelligence agencies said Moscow’s interference included a campaign of hacking and releasing embarrassing emails, and disseminating propaganda via social media to discredit her campaign.

US special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed by the US Justice Department to lead the Russia probe, is investigating whether Trump election officials cooordinated with Russia.

Sources familiar with Mueller’s investigation said he has used his broad authority to investigate links between Trump associates and foreign governments, as well as to determine whether the president or any of his aides tried to obstruct justice.

Trump has repeatedly denied allegations that his campaign colluded with Russians and has condemned the investigations. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also denied the allegations.

This photo taken on June 18, 2013 shows then Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller awaiting the start of a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

Mueller was appointed a week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was leading a federal investigation into possible Russia collusion.

Trump initially said he fired Comey because his leadership of the FBI was inadequate and hurt morale, but he later cited “this Russia thing” as his reason.

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