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Intelligence and law enforcement leaders before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The leaders of America's intelligence community warned Tuesday that the threat of foreign offensives on social media had not abated:

“We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen and other means … to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States."
— Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing

Why it matters: "There should be no doubt that Russia perceived that its past efforts [were] successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations," Coats said. "Frankly, the United States is under attack."

Note: Both CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have also previously said they expect Russia to try to interfere in the midterm elections.

The details:

  • Coats said that the threat of foreign governments using social media tactics wasn't the purview of just one agency. "There’s no single agency, quote, in charge," he said.
  • Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr noted broadly that the committee and the intelligence community has had immense difficulty in communicating with tech companies about "a way forward that is in commonality."
  • Burr asked NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers whether he was worried that dynamic would get more fraught: "Yes I am, because quite frankly I wonder so how bad does this have to get before we realize we have to do some things fundamentally differently," Rogers replied.

Go deeper

Updated 23 seconds ago - Politics & Policy

Dominion files $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani

Photo: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani on Monday seeking $1.3 billion in damages for his "demonstrably false” allegations about the company's voting machines.

Why it matters: Giuliani led former President Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the election and spread the baseless conspiracy theory that Dominion's voting machines flipped votes from Trump to Joe Biden.

Mike Lindell moves the goalposts on a run for Minnesota governor

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell waits outside the West Wing of the White House before entering on Jan. 15. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The will-he-or-won't-he speculation surrounding a possible gubernatorial run by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is destined to continue at least a bit longer.

What he's saying: Lindell told Axios that his focus is currently on proving his (baseless) claims of election fraud. He won't make a decision until that fight is resolved.

Wall Street pencils in virus variants as latest economic risk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wall Street is pinning its bets of an economic rebound this year on mass vaccinations and a virus brought under control, but new coronavirus strains threaten that sunny outlook, a number of firms are warning.

Why it matters: None downgraded growth forecasts because of the variants, but they’re acknowledging there’s a new asterisk to the anticipated economic recovery.

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