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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios 

James Clapper, director of national intelligence under President Obama, says Russia is "the most pressing near-term threat to the U.S., for two reasons: its aggressive information operations campaign to undermine our basic system, and the modernization of its strategic nuclear arsenal."

Clapper told Axios in a recent interview that Russia is "bent on undermining our system any way they can," and will be as long as Vladimir Putin remains in power.

Sen. Tom Cotton cites Russia's "flagrant violations of its treaty commitments," including on nuclear weapons, as an issue that has flown under the radar despite "months of coverage of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election."

Michael Dempsey, the acting director of national intelligence in the first months of 2017, says Russia's election meddling and illegal annexation of Crimea point to a deeper threat:

  • "The erosion of existing international norms, and the international community’s inability to establish new norms in such areas as cyber warfare, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and autonomous weapons development."
  • "My main concern is that in the absence of agreed-upon norms in each of these areas, and without a vibrant Western alliance to rely on, the world could stumble into a crisis that it doesn’t understand and is incapable of managing."

Go deeper: Cold War 2.0.

Go deeper

Storms pummel flood-hit Pacific Northwest as border river overflows

An image of the water-logged Sumas Prairie area taken last Friday. Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Twitter.

The latest ferocious storm system to hit the Pacific Northwest triggered fresh evacuation orders in flood-ravaged British Columbia and at least one mudslide late Sunday.

Threat level: Flood sirens sounded in Washington state as the Nooksack River overflowed south across the border and into Canada. Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun told reporters there was "nothing to stop it," as the rising waters neared the B.C. border city.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

Former Defense Secretary Esper sues Pentagon over book

Former President Trump and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the White House in 2020. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper filed a lawsuit Sunday against the Defense Department, accusing the Pentagon of "censoring" his First Amendment rights by redacting parts of his upcoming book on the Trump administration.

The big picture: Esper, who served as defense secretary from July 2019 until he was fired by then-President Trump in November last year, alleges in the suit that "significant text" is "being improperly withheld from publication" of the manuscript "under the guise of classification."