House Democrats question DHS chief's claim of ignorance about Russian election interference

Midterms are in Putin's crosshairs, ex-spy chief says

Panel approves bill to toughen foreign investment reviews DHS secretary says she hasn't seen assessment that Russian Federation interfered to help Trump win MORE (D-Va.).

A representative of Nielsen's defended her Tuesday comments, saying the reporter's question that preceded them was misleading.

But given a chance to clarify her remark moments later, she would not directly answer whether she believed Putin ever tried to help Donald Trump, which the intelligence assessment clearly says he eventually did.

Clapper does not go so far as to state that Trump colluded with Russia, but he describes the president's attitude in face of evidence of Russian interference as one of "aggressive indifference".

Shortly afterwards, Nielsen tried to clarify her statement by saying its unclear if Russian Federation had a "specific intent" favoring Trump - based on the actions they took in their 2016 cyber campaign. "I do generally have no reason to doubt any intelligence assessment".

"This report is over a year old, has stood the test of time, was agreed to by the entire Intelligence Community, and was backed up by Senate investigators", he said in a statement. So I think what they're trying to do, in my opinion, and I defer to the intel community, is just disrupt our belief and our own understanding of what's happening.

What is ironic is that these comments were made as Nielsen was in Capitol Hill to brief officials over election security as midterm elections in November approach and top intelligence officials are anxious Russian Federation might interfere again.

In the 2017 assessment, the FBI, CIA and NSA all agreed that Russian Federation interfered with a preference for Trump.

In its 2017 report, the Intelligence Community stated: "Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the USA democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. All three agencies agree with this judgment", the report's conclusion found. "Russian goals included undermining faith in the USA democratic process and harming a candidate's electability and potential presidency". As The Daily Beast noted, Clapper is adamant that it was Russia's actions in interfering in the election that swung the race to Donald Trump.

Indeed, the ongoing investigation of Russia's meddling in the 2016 USA election has made it hard for Trump to wrap his arms around Putin.

"The intelligence assessment language is nuanced for a reason", Houlton wrote.

Robert Mueller, then Federal Bureau of Investigation director, and James Clapper, then director of national intelligence (from left), testify during a hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on Capitol Hill on March 12, 2013.

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