FBI Director Wray says Russia continues to sow discord in U.S.

FBI Director Wray says Russia continues to sow discord in U.S.

The way the Russians work, he said, is they identify a divisive issue in the USA and then use overt and covert means, including fake news and propaganda, to "basically sow divisiveness, spin people up on both sides of an issue and watch us go after each other".

Speaking with NBC's Lester Holt at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, Wray said he did not agree with Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent denial of Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign, adding that "there is no question that Russia has been the most aggressive actor" in efforts to influence the election.

Until last night's CBS interview, that put Wray at odds with his boss.

"The intelligence community's assessment has not changed".

Wray, who was speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, also took issue with Trump's suggestion on Wednesday that Russian Federation has not continued to interfere this year as the United State prepares for congressional elections in November.

As President Donald Trump continues to "clarify" his views on whether Russian Federation launched an assault on the 2016 presidential election, the FBI director made his own views clear today: "Russia attempted to interfere in the last election", FBI Director Chris Wray stated unequivocally.

In this September 28, 2017, file photo, FBI Director Chris Wray speaks at his installation ceremony at the FBI Building in Washington.

"I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place", Trump said, reading a statement from the White House.

Russian Federation has "aimed at sowing discord and divisiveness in this country", Wray said, adding that the US intelligence community has not seen efforts to "target specific election infrastructure".

Asked about the other half of Putin's offer - to have Russian law enforcement sit in on Federal Bureau of Investigation interrogations of Americans who are of interest to Moscow - Wray quipped: "That's probably even lower on our list of investigative techniques".

"I do not believe Special Counsel Mueller is on a witch hunt", Wray said, describing Mueller as a "straight shooter" who's running a "professional" investigation.

"But certainly other efforts, what I would call malign influence operations, are very active".

"I think if we start exposing sources and methods, we are setting a risky precedent", Wray said.

The operations, Wray said, are "aimed at sowing discord and divisiveness in this country".

Wray said China is the broadest, most challenging, most significant threat to the United States. China wants to replace the United States as the most powerful economic engine in the world and is infiltrating American businesses to get an edge. "I do not believe special counsel Mueller is on a witch hunt", he told Holt later in the same discussion on Russian Federation, adding that he knows Mueller personally as "a straight shooter". "It is economic espionage as well as traditional espionage", Wray said, adding that the threat from China is something that can not be underestimated. "It covers everything from corn seeds in Iowa to wind turbines in MA and everything in between".

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