United States accuses Russian Federation of 'pervasive' election meddling

A slew of top US officials including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and FBI Director Christopher Wray vowed to investigate and prosecute those who were trying to sway US opinion or carrying out what Wray called

President Donald Trump is firmly standing up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, even though his tweets and fawning performance at a joint news conference create the opposite impression, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said Thursday.

USA national security chiefs have lined up to warn American democracy is in the "crosshairs" of foreign adversaries for elections in 2018 and 2020.

To drive the point home, leaders from four U.S. intelligence agencies and John Bolton, President Donald Trump's national security adviser, addressed Russian election influence campaigns at a press briefing Thursday.

Coats was one of five top national security leaders - the others were National Security Adviser John Bolton; FBI Director Christopher Wray; Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen; and General Paul Nakasone, director of the National Security Agency - who condemned Russian efforts to interfere in United States elections at the briefing.

Russian Federation and unnamed others are still seeking to influence USA midterm elections through messaging and sowing division, heads of the ODNI, FBI, DHS, and NSA told reporters, pledging to protect democracy but offering no details.

'Our democracy is in the crosshairs, ' Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen declared during Thursday's White House press briefing.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders brought the five out at the start of her briefing on Thursday.

"This is a threat that we need to take extremely seriously".

Mueller is investigating whether the Trump campaign aided or abetted an attempt by Russian Federation to sway the 2016 presidential election, or tried to cover up the conspiracy.

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Nielsen said that "our adversaries have shown they have the willingness and capability to interfere in our elections", and "DHS has and continues to work closely with state and local election officials throughout the country by offering a range of services to help identify weaknesses in their election systems".

Democrats and Republicans have lobbed criticisms at the Trump administration over their response to election interference.

"Since January 2017, the president has taken decisive action to defend our election systems from meddling and interference", Bolton said.

Their rare appearance during a White House briefing came as a display of resolve, weeks after Trump publicly undermined the conclusions of American intelligence agencies regarding Russian interference. Trump has insisted there was no collusion between his campaign and Russian Federation.

"These efforts are not exclusive to this election or future elections, but certainly cover issues relevant to the election", he said.

"Russia has used numerous ways in which they want to influence, through media, social media, through bots, through actors that they hire, through proxies - all of the above, and potentially more", he said.

He cited the fact he was a senior adviser to Mr Trump's presidential campaign, and appointed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oversee the investigation instead.

"To suggest that the Russians interfered to break down our democracy without wanting to pick winners and losers is false".

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