FBI Director Christopher Wray says Russia is determined to interfere in the next US presidential election in 2020 despite US sanctions and other efforts to deter such actions.
"The Russians are absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections through the foreign influence," Wray testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
Wray made the comments during an oversight hearing a day before Robert Mueller, the former US special counsel, was due to testify publicly before Congress about his two-year investigation of Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential race in favor of President Donald Trump.
“Everything we’ve done against Russia has not deterred them enough?” asked Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican committee chairman. “All the sanctions, all the talk, they’re still at it?”
“Yes. My view is until they stop they haven’t been deterred enough,” Wray responded.
Wray, however, said the FBI has "significant resources devoted" to combating foreign influence in the upcoming election and that he could not think of any more tools he needs from Congress on that front.
US intelligence agencies have claimed Moscow meddled in the 2016 election with a campaign of email hacking and online propaganda aimed at sowing discord in the United States, hurting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and helping Trump.
Mueller, a former FBI director, had been examining since May 2017 whether Trump’s election campaign colluded with Moscow to try to influence the 2016 presidential election and whether he later unlawfully tried to obstruct his investigation.
Both Trump and Russia have repeatedly denied the accusations. Trump has sought to discredit the investigation, calling it a “witch hunt” and accusing Mueller of conflicts of interest.
On March 22, Mueller submitted his confidential report to US Attorney General William Barr, triggering calls from lawmakers in Congress for the document’s quick release.
A redacted version of Mueller's report published in April did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump aids and Moscow to sway the outcome of the election.
The US has already introduced several rounds of sanctions against Moscow for Russia’s alleged meddling in the US democratic process and its involvement in the Ukrainian conflict.
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