FBI chief: Russia upping meddling efforts ahead of 2020, midterms a 'dress rehearsal'

FBI chief: Russia upping meddling efforts ahead of 2020, midterms a 'dress rehearsal'
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FBI Director Christopher Wray said Friday that the 2018 midterm elections served as a "dress rehearsal" for Russia's election interference efforts slated to be aimed at the 2020 presidential election.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, the FBI director said that Russian operatives and other foreign agents are "adapting" to the efforts the U.S. intelligence community is taking to secure America's election systems.

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"Well, I think — on the one hand I think enormous strides have been made since 2016 by all the different federal agencies, state and local election officials, the social media companies, etc.," Wray said.

"But I think we recognize that our adversaries are going to keep adapting and upping their game. And so we’re very much viewing 2018 as just kind of a dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020," he added.

One area Wray pointed to where the FBI has seen improvement is in cooperation with social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook, where Russian election meddling was centered in 2016.

"The flow of information back and forth between law enforcement and the intelligence community and Silicon Valley, I think, has gotten dramatically better," Wray said.

"I think those companies recognize that there is a need for them to take action so that their own platforms are not abused," he added.

Officials at the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have touted the Trump administration's efforts to secure election systems and combat interference from other countries in recent months.

In January, the director of DHS's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency told Congress that the government was "light-years ahead" of its capabilities in 2016.

It was reported this week, however, that former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenHillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 Sen. Kennedy slams acting DHS secretary for lack of coronavirus answers The 'accidental director' on the front line of the fight for election security MORE was warned by White House aides not to discuss the matter with President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE, who has frequently downplayed Russia's election meddling efforts in 2016.