Donald Trump aides say Russia has sweeping effort to weaken US elections

HELSINKI FINLAND- JULY 16 U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive to waiting media during a joint press conference after their summit

But the message from the White House on Thursday could not have been clearer.

Wray told reporters that compared to 2016, in 2018, "We are not yet seeing the same kind of efforts to specifically target election infrastructure", but that other efforts to influence public opinion continue.

Coats added the United States continues to see "a pervasive messaging campaign by Russian Federation to try to weaken and divide the United States", in regards to the midterm elections.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Bolton's letter did not address Democrats' concerns that the Trump administration was not fully implementing USA sanctions on Russian Federation levied in response to the 2016 meddling.

Numerous nation's top intelligence officials made a surprise appearance in the White House press briefing Thursday to send a message from the podium that President Donald Trump and the rest of the USA government are prepared to take on foreign election interference, including from Russian Federation. Wray also provided a fresh look at how Russian Federation and other countries go after the United States' integrity, saying the Federal Bureau of Investigation has uncovered foreign influence operations that include "targeting USA officials and other US persons through traditional intelligence tradecraft, criminal efforts to suppress voting and provide illegal campaign financing, cyber attacks against voting infrastructure along with computer intrusions targeting elected officials and others", as well as "both overtly and covertly manipulating news stories, spreading disinformation, leveraging economic resources and escalating divisive issues".

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Democrats skeptical of the Trump-led effort to protect the elections said they were glad there was now a focus on it. Trump held a National Security Council meeting on the subject last Friday and Bolton sent a letter to Senate Democratic leaders to describe the effort.

"Glad to see the White House finally do something about election security - even if it's only a press conference", Sen.

"This is a threat that we need to take extremely seriously".

Stewart added Trump was wrong when he sided more with Putin than the USA intelligence community about Russian interference in elections, and wishes his corrections were more forceful.

Bolton said Thursday that Trump is "leading unprecedented action to punish Russia" for its efforts to disrupt American elections.

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Stewart said when he made his predictions, he was asked about who he thought Russian Federation wanted to win the election. He established a task force to "root out" the influence operations trying to suppress voting, manipulating news stories and spread misinformation. He added that while Russian Federation has attempted to influence campaigns in the past, "they stepped up their game in 2016".

"These efforts are not exclusive to this election or future elections, but certainly cover issues relevant to the election", he said.

On Thursday, Bolton said he meets with Trump on the issue of blocking interference in the 2018 campaign "constantly" and privately raised concerns with Putin during their meeting.

The president also is pushing for a voter ID law.

Senate Democrats criticized Republicans over election security this week after GOPs blocked an amendment offered by Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to provide $250 million in election security grants to states.

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