Intel agencies to brief officials from all 50 states on election threats

Intel agencies to brief officials from all 50 states on election threats
© Greg Nash

Top U.S. intelligence agencies will host a briefing for election officials from all 50 states starting Friday on possible election threats from foreign adversaries, amid warnings from officials this week that Russia aims to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections.

The classified briefing on Friday and Sunday, hosted by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, aims to educate the officials on possible threats to election infrastructure.

"The briefings will focus on increasing awareness of foreign adversary intent and capabilities against the states’ election infrastructure, as well as a discussion of threat mitigation efforts," the ODNI said in a statement.

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National Intelligence Director Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsTrump stuns the world at Putin summit Trump: ‘Phony witch hunt’ drove wedge between US, Russia Press: Whose side is Trump on? MORE, along with FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoRyan: 'The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally' Former CIA director Brennan urges Pompeo, Bolton, Kelly to resign following 'treasonous' Trump-Putin summit Mnuchin says US will consider Iran oil sanctions waivers: report MORE testified before Congress this week that the agencies are expecting 2018 election interference from Russia similar to its efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

“Persistent and disruptive cyber operations will continue against the United States and our European allies, using elections as opportunities to undermine democracy, sow discord and undermine our values,” Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee. 

The U.S. intelligence community affirmed in an unclassified report last year that the Russian government attempted to sway the 2016 election in President TrumpDonald John TrumpShocking summit with Putin caps off Trump’s turbulent Europe trip GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Trump stuns the world at Putin summit MORE's favor, an operation that included targeting election systems in 21 states.

ODNI said the briefing with the election officials, along with representatives of the association representing secretaries of state, is "part of an ongoing effort to ensure the integrity and security of the nation's election infrastructure, particularly as the risk environment evolves." 

Agencies have confirmed that the Russian influence campaign included a cyberattack against the Democratic National Committee and the widespread use of social media to distribute false and politically charged information.