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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

During a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee this morning, officials from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security discussed the scope of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and how the federal government is preparing for potential future cyberattacks.

The big thing: Jeanette Manfra, the Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Cybersecurity and Communications at DHS, confirmed that election-related systems in 21 states were targeted in the lead-up to the 2016 election, but reiterated that no vote tallies were altered.

Related: Manfra refused to name those 21 states, but said that the "system owners" had been made aware of the targeting. She also said that some states had data exfiltrated by Russian hackers but refused to provide details regarding the nature or scope of the exfiltrated election data.

Other things to note:

  • It'll happen again: Bill Priestap, the Assistant Director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division, said that he believes the Russians will continue their hacking efforts.
  • 2016 was different: Priestap noted that, while Russia had tried to influence U.S. elections since the Cold War, "the scale and aggressiveness" of the 2016 effort was different.
  • Russia's three goals: According to Priestap, Russia hoped to: (1) sow discord, (2) delegitimize the United States' free and fair election process, and (3) denigrate Secretary Clinton and attempt to help now-President Trump.
  • Was it a success? Priestap said that the Russians might mark the current distractions in U.S. government as a success, but noted that the level of public awareness now surrounding their usual tactics might reduce their effectiveness in future elections.
  • Trump: All of the DHS and FBI officials said that President Trump had not ordered or requested the ongoing investigation of Russian hacking.
  • Kaspersky: All of the DHS and FBI officials refused to comment on whether U.S. agencies should use the Russian-linked cybersecurity company.

Go deeper

Trump's coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas resigns

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Scott Atlas, a controversial member of the White House coronavirus task force, handed in his resignation on Monday, according to three administration officials who discussed Atlas' resignation with Axios.

Why it matters: President Trump brought in Atlas as a counterpoint to NIAID director Anthony Fauci, whose warnings about the pandemic were dismissed by the Trump administration. With Trump now fixated on election fraud conspiracy theories, Atlas' detail comes to a natural end.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Assassination in Iran sets stage for tense final 50 days of Trump

The funeral ceremony in Tehran. Photo: Iranian Defense Ministry via Getty

Iranian leaders are weighing their response to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, known as the father of Iran’s military nuclear program, who was given a state funeral Monday in Tehran.

The big picture: Iran has accused Israel of carrying out Friday’s attack, but senior leaders have suggested that they’ll choose patience over an immediate escalation that could play into the hands of the Israelis and the outgoing Trump administration.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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