America’s top intelligence official says that Russia and other foreign powers will likely attempt to exploit the 2020 presidential elections in a continuance of efforts that US intelligence officials have warned of for years.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned Congress of that danger during testimony on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, where he and other intelligence chiefs discussed the annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment” report.
In addition to the elections interference concerns, the report also raised concerns that contradicted Donald Trump on a variety of foreign policy issues including Iran, North Korea, and Syria.
“We assess that foreign actors will view the 2020 US elections as an opportunity to advance their interests”, Mr Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee. ”We expect them to refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other’s experiences and efforts.”
The statement is consistent with warnings that have come from the intelligence community for years now, and especially in the aftermath of the 2016 election when Russia sought to influence the election in a variety of ways.
Mr Coats, during his congressional testimony, contradicted Mr Trump on several foreign policy fronts.
North Korea, he said, is “unlikely to give up” all of it nuclear weapons stockpiles, just before Mr Trump is set to hold a second summit with the country to negotiate that very goal.
“We currently assess North Korea will seek to retain its [weapons of mass destruction] capability and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability,” Mr Coats said.
Iran, meanwhile, is not “currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activity”, even though Mr Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear agreement citing ongoing weapons testing as justification.
And, Mr Coats and the intelligence report also challenged the president’s declaration that the Isis had been defeated. Mr Trump said the US and its allies had beaten the terror group in justifying his decision to pull US troops from Syria.
ISIS “still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria”, the Worldwide Threat Assessment report said.