In January, the Trump administration was harshly criticized for not imposing new sanctions when a list of 114 Russian politicians and 96 oligarchs was released to comply with a law Congress passed to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 USA election.
The top USA intelligence official said on Tuesday President Donald Trump's administration is "actively engaged" in efforts to prevent Russian efforts to influence the November midterm elections, even as he warned of Moscow's continuing "malign activities". "Sanctions are under consideration, and the Secretary of Treasury has indicated, I think as early as next week, he'll be listing some of those sanctions', the outlet wrote. We just don't know how much and when and where", Coats said.
Russian intelligence and security services are expected to continue to probe USA and allied critical infrastructures next year.
In his opening statement to the committee, Coats assessed that Russian President Vladimir Putin will cooperate with the United States when it fits with Russia's interests, while also seeking to weaken the United States.
Coats said some of the conflict is coming from a race for technological superiority, which could include the ability to build and use superior weapons, but also includes threats like cyber terrorism and election meddling. "This is a high priority for them", he said.
The administration was criticised for not imposing new sanctions in January when a list of 114 Russian politicians and 96 oligarchs was released to comply with a law passed to punish Moscow. Senator Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, asked who should lead efforts to counter Russian Federation with this year's elections "right around the corner". Trump has denied collusion between his associates and Russian Federation. Admiral Mike Rogers, the current NSA director, told the panel Trump had not granted him authority to disrupt Russian hacking.
Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., said saying the administration is taking a "whole of government approach" is essentially saying "it's somebody else's job".
At Tuesday's hearing, Coats said his office recently met with other agencies, including the National Security Agency, to discuss cyber threats to this year's midterm elections.
"These states are using cyber operations as a low-priced tool of statecraft, and we assess that they will work to use cyber operations to achieve strategic objectives unless they face clear repercussions for their cyber operations".
"I did not understand it to be said in the context of Russian influence in the elections", Coats said.
"We see this continuing influence by the Russians and we want to be not only defensively ready".