Russia is still trying to interfere 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 interference, 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.”
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.”