In an interview with USA TODAY, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia says that Russia’s attack on the American elections system is “much broader than has been reported so far.”
He was referring to The Intercept’s story yesterday regarding a leaked NSA document which shows that Russian military intelligence “spearphished” email accounts of people and organizations involved in vote counting.
While Warner doubts the hackers managed to alter the ballot count anywhere, he also wants intelligence agencies to release the names of all the states and entities that were affected by the GRU’s cyberwar on American democracy.
And he warns that the attacks have not ended. “None of these actions from the Russians stopped on Election Day,” he says.
“Some folks say the states are victims, so they have to agree to release that information,” he said. “I really want to press the case. This is not an attempt to embarrass any state. This is a case to make sure that the American public writ large realizes that if we don’t get ahead of this, this same kind of intervention could take place in 2018 and definitely will take place in 2020.”
As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Warner has probably access to much more classified material than Reality Winner, the 25-year old whistleblower who sent the NSA analysis document to The Intercept, did.
Winner was arrested on Saturday after investigators followed clues that The Intercept let slip. Warner told USA TODAY that the person responsible for the leak “should be pursued to the full extent of the law.”
But if Warner is correct — and there is little reason to doubt him at this point — then Winner’s bad decision may have been motivated by an awareness of the true scale at which Russia hacked the 2016 elections.
Comment on Thursday’s Comey hearing
Sen. Warner also told USA TODAY that “The American public deserves to know whether this president tried to interfere or tried to affect their views about this Russia investigation, and one way or another, we’re going to get to the bottom of this.”
He was talking about Thursday’s much-anticipated committee hearing, when fired FBI Director James Comey is expected to testify about Donald Trump’s alleged efforts to obstruct justice in the investigation of Michael Flynn.
For Warner, that topic is the “million-dollar question.”
“Director Comey wants to tell his side of the story,” Warner said. “After the way he was treated by this president, after some of the names that this president has besmirched his reputation with, just seems in basic fairness he gets to tell his side of the story to the American public, and I hope he’ll be as forthcoming as possible.”
National Security Agency director Adm. Mike Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats will also testify on Wednesday. It is unclear if any of the scheduled witnesses will be asked about Russian intrusions like the one revealed by Ms. Winner and The Intercept.
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