North Korea an 'increasing threat,' warn top intelligence officials

Coats: Election meddling 'ongoing'

USA intelligence officials said Russian President Vladimir Putin meddled in the 2016 US election, and now, with critical elections coming up in November and control of Congress at stake, officials said Tuesday that Putin is at it again.

North Korea presents "a potentially existential" threat to the United States and is likely to conduct more weapons tests this year, Dan Coats said at the Senate Intelligence Committee's annual hearing on "Worldwide Threats".

WASHINGTON-The U.S. director of national intelligence warned on Tuesday that time was running out for the United States to act on the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Coats said that Russian Federation will continue using propaganda, false personas and social media to undermine the upcoming election.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a congressional committee that Russian Federation and other foreign entities were likely to attack United States and European elections this year and beyond, adding that Moscow believes similar efforts successfully undermined USA democracy two years ago.

Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo also attended the hearing. "And we've also heard recent indications of Russian activities in Mexico", Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) said at the broad hearing on worldwide threats. "This is not going to change or stop", Rogers said.

USA intelligence agencies concluded previous year that Moscow sought to influence the 2016 presidential campaign in favor of then-Republican candidate Donald Trump.

None of the other agency heads could say that the president had directed them to counter Russian meddling, and while senators probed for a detailed plan on how to counter Russian active measures, the witnesses made clear that there is no comprehensive plan in place or being developed.

Russian hackers are already scanning US electoral systems, intelligence officials have said, and using bot armies to promote partisan causes on social media.

UFC 221: Yoel Romero turns off Luke Rockhold's lights in third round
In the blink of an eye, Rockhold was sent into a career tailspin while Romero, once again, was an unstoppable monster. Tuivasa is now 7-0 as a professional, with all wins by knockout, including two with the UFC.

Coats' assessment runs counter to statements from Trump, who has cast doubt on the notion of Russian meddling and denied any collusion by his associates with Russia ahead of his surprise November 2016 defeat of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

American Intelligence Chief Dan Coats has claimed that Pakistan is developing new types of nuclear weapons, including short-range tactical ones. They said there were concerns the Chinese companies would use their access to spy on US officials, and USA intelligence chiefs appeared to agree on Tuesday.

"We have a significant effort" to rebuff Moscow, he said.

"I'm concerned that our increasing fractious political process, particularly with respect to federal spending, is threatening our ability to properly defend our nation both in the short term and especially in the long term", he said.

Pompeo said the sanctions decision had to be viewed in a broader context: The United States is checking and deterring Russian Federation across the globe, he said, from sanctions on Moscow's ally Venezuela to military action in Syria and beyond.

The companies have repeatedly denied that the Chinese government is using them to spy on the United States.

At the end of the hearing, Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said that the panel hoped to release publicly the findings of its Russian Federation investigation "before the primaries begin" in March.

So the next milestone in the inquiry into Russian election interference - at least in the Senate - could be the release of the intelligence committee's long-awaited report finally giving the full story about what happened in 2016.

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