rain.png
Thursday April 9th, 2020 4:58PM
5:07AM ( 11 hours ago ) Weather Alert

FBI director warns of ongoing Russian 'information warfare'

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — FBI Director Chris Wray said Wednesday that Russia is engaged in “information warfare” heading into the 2020 presidential election, though he said law enforcement has not seen ongoing efforts by Russia to target America's election infrastructure.

Wray told the House Judiciary Committee that Russia, just as it did in 2016, is relying on a covert social media campaign aimed at dividing American public opinion and sowing discord. That effort, which involves fictional personas, bots, social media postings and disinformation, may have an election-year uptick but is also a round-the-clock threat that is in some ways harder to combat than an election system hack, Wray said.

“Unlike a cyberattack on an election infrastructure, that kind of effort — disinformation — in a world where we have a First Amendment and believe strongly in freedom of expression, the FBI is not going to be in the business of being the truth police and monitoring disinformation online,” Wray said.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are on alert for election-related cyberactivity like what occurred in 2016, when Russians hacked emails belonging to the Democratic campaign of nominee Hillary Clinton and probed local election systems for vulnerabilities.

But, Wray said Wednesday, “I don't think we've seen any ongoing efforts to target election infrastructure like we did in 2016.”

His appearance came two days after Democratic presidential caucuses in Iowa were marred by a malfunctioning app that caused a delay in the reporting of results. Though local and federal officials have stressed that the problems weren't caused by a foreign intrusion, the error played into existing unease surrounding election security and risked amplifying concerns among American about the integrity of the voting process.

Even without signs of election system targeting, Wray said Russian efforts to interfere in the election through disinformation had not tapered off since 2016. He said social media had injected “steroids" into those efforts.

"They identify an issue that they know that the American people feel passionately about on both sides and then they take both sides and spin them up so they pit us against each other," Wray said. “And then they combine that with an effort to weaken our confidence in our elections and our democratic institutions, which has been a pernicious and asymmetric way of engaging in ... information warfare."

At another point in the hearing, Wray avoided a direct answer when asked if President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr or other administration officials had asked him for investigations into Trump Democratic rival Joe Biden, his son Hunter, or into any members of Congress.

The question was posed by Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, the committee chairman and one of seven House Democratic managers of the impeachment case. He asked whether Trump had requested FBI investigations into the Bidens, lawmakers or former national security adviser John Bolton — who is due out with a book next month said to undercut a key Trump defense — as possible payback for impeachment.

Wray initially said: “I have assured the Congress, and I can assure the Congress today, that the FBI will only open investigations based on the facts, and the law and proper predication."

After Nadler said he assumed that answer meant that neither Trump nor Barr nor other administration officials had requested improper political investigations, Wray tried again: “No one has asked me to open an investigation based on anything other than facts, the law and proper predication."

Trump has sought, without evidence, to implicate the Bidens in the kind of corruption that has long plagued Ukraine. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company at the same time his father, as vice president, was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Ukraine. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

Wray’s appearance was his first since a Justice Department inspector general report that sharply criticized the FBI’s surveillance of former Trump campaign aide national security Carter Page. The errors produced rare bipartisan calls for changes to the federal government’s surveillance powers.

The report identified what it said were significant errors in applications to eavesdrop on Page, including omitting critical information that cut against the FBI’s original premise that Page was a Russian agent — something he has repeatedly denied.

After the report was issued, Wray told The Associated Press that the mistakes were “unacceptable and unrepresentative of who we are as an institution.” He repeated that message to lawmakers Wednesday.

The then-chief judge of the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which authorizes wiretapping of subjects on American soil in national security investigations, responded to the report with an extraordinary public rebuke of the FBI and demanded that the bureau report back on what it was doing to fix the problems.

The FBI has laid out a series of changes designed to ensure warrant applications are more closely scrutinized before being submitted for a judge’s approval and that they contain accurate information about the reliability and potential bias of sources whom agents rely on. The Justice Department has also said the surveillance of Page should have ended before it did.

Wray bristled at the suggestion from some Republican lawmakers that he did not take the report's criticism seriously enough.

“I’ve been a prosecutor. I've been a defense attorney, I've been an assistant attorney general, I've been an FBI director," Wray said. “To me, candor to the court is sacrosanct, and I don’t think there’s anybody in the FBI who's belaboring under the misimpression that I think it’s OK to mislead a court."

____

Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Snowfall blankets Texas, Oklahoma; Deep South to see storms
A winter storm is bringing snowfall as far south as El Paso, Texas, while areas of the Deep South are at risk of severe weather including tornadoes and torrential rains
2:01PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Warrants served in 1996 disappearance of California student
New search warrants have been served in California and Washington state in the investigation of the disappearance of college student Kristin Smart in 1996
1:57PM ( 14 minutes ago )
FBI director warns of ongoing Russian 'information warfare'
FBI Director Chris Wray says Russia is engaged in “information warfare" heading into the 2020 presidential election
1:57PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Biden blasts Sanders, calls Buttigieg a 'risk'
Joe Biden is attacking two of his major 2020 Democratic presidential rivals as he campaigns in New Hampshire
12:52PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Joe Biden acknowledges 'gut punch' in Iowa
Joe Biden says he won't sugarcoat the impact of Iowa on his 2020 presidential bid
12:34PM ( 1 hour ago )
Biden's poor showing in Iowa shakes establishment support
Joe Biden's third presidential bid is entering a critical stretch after a disappointing finish in the Iowa caucuses
12:31PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
2 leaders of Democratic convention host committee fired
The two leaders of Milwaukee's host committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention have been fired amid allegations that they oversaw a toxic work environment
1:16PM ( 55 minutes ago )
Trump impeachment acquittal on track ahead of Senate vote
President Donald Trump is on the verge of acquittal by the Senate
11:21AM ( 2 hours ago )
Trump uses State of Union to campaign; Pelosi rips up speech
President Donald Trump stood before a Congress and a nation sharply divided by impeachment and used his State of the Union address to extol a “Great American Comeback” on his watch
8:52AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Elections
The Latest: White House lambastes Pelosi for ripping speech
The White House and President Donald Trump's reelection campaign are lashing out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for ripping up the president's State of the Union speech
11:06PM ( 15 hours ago )
In response to Trump, Democrat focuses on pocketbook issues
Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is using her party's response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address to say Democrats are focusing on making health care more affordable
10:00PM ( 16 hours ago )
In response to Trump, Democrat focuses on pocket book issues
Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is using her party's response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address to say Democrats are focusing on making health care more affordable
8:54PM ( 17 hours ago )
General Presidential Election News
Snowfall blankets Texas, Oklahoma; Deep South to see storms
A winter storm is bringing snowfall as far south as El Paso, Texas, while areas of the Deep South are at risk of severe weather including tornadoes and torrential rains
2:01PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Warrants served in 1996 disappearance of California student
New search warrants have been served in California and Washington state in the investigation of the disappearance of college student Kristin Smart in 1996
1:57PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Vulnerable Democrat Doug Jones will vote to convict Trump
Alabama Sen. Doug Jones says he will vote to convict President Donald Trump as the Senate impeachment trial reaches its climax
1:55PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Plane skids off Istanbul runway; 120 hurt
A plane has skidded off the runway upon landing at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport, crashing into a field and breaking into at least three pieces
1:54PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Accuser in LA case testifies at Weinstein’s NY rape trial
A final accuser has taken the witness stand at Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial
1:51PM ( 21 minutes ago )