While members of the intelligence community are warning that Russia is already meddling in the 2018 midterm elections, reports suggest that President Donald Trump continues to question the validity of the fact the country sowed discord during the 2016 election.
On Tuesday FBI Director Christopher Wray, who Trump nominated for the position after his abrupt firing of former FBI Director James Comey, told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee that the president has not directed him to stop efforts by Russia to meddle during this year’s upcoming midterm elections.
When questioned by Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) about any directives from Trump specifically, Wray answered:
“Not as specifically directed by the president.”
Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, told the committee that he expects Russia to continue using “social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokespeople and other means” to influence voters.
“There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations,” Coats said, according to the New York Times.
On Wednesday, despite comments like Coats’, CNN sources told the news outlet that Trump “remains unconvinced” that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
The president apparently conflates the question of whether his campaign worked with Russia—a notion he has repeatedly denied as it is being investigated by a special counsel—and Russia’s influence on American voters.
It’s possible that Trump continues to question the fact that Russia meddled in the 2016 election because it calls into question how he was able to upset Hillary Clinton and win the presidency. It’s been determined by numerous members of the country’s intelligence community that Russia sowed discord in numerous ways—including through social media—to try and influence American voters ahead of the election.
Sen. Angus King (I-Me.) said he understood Trump’s “sensitivity” surrounding Russia, but said there was “no question” about the country’s attempts to meddle int he election.
“There is no question, we’ve got before us the entire intelligence community, that the Russians interfered in the election in 2016, they’re continuing to do it, and they’re a real imminent threat to our elections in a matter of eight or nine months,” King told CNN. “My problem is I talk to people in Maine who say the whole thing is a witch hunt and a hoax because ‘the President told me.'”