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Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats confirmed Thursday the intelligence community sees Russia has tried "to hack into and steal information from candidates and government officials alike."

Why it matters: Microsoft's Tom Burt said hacking has happened to candidates without attributing it to Russia, and Sen. Claire McCaskill and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said hacking has happened to them. Coats is now confirming Russia is behind some attacks, although not necessarily these.

Speaking at a White House Press briefing alongside FBI Director Chris Wray, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and NSA and Cyber Command Director General Paul Nakasone, Director Coats explained, "We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States. These efforts are not exclusive to this election…We know the Russians tried to hack into and steal information from candidates and government officials alike."

The details: Director Coats said the Russians don't appear to be distinguishing between party in their attempts to hack right now: "What we see is the Russians are looking for every opportunity regardless of party whether or not it applies to the election."

  • General Nakasone explained the U.S. is "prepared to conduct operations against those attempting to undermine our nation's midterm elections."

"In the context of 2018 we are not seeing the same kinds of efforts to target [election] infrastructure...voter registration databases in particular," Director Wray said when asked if they are seeing more targeting of election infrastructure by information warfare.

  • Director Wray added that "any moment is just a moment before the dial can be turned up…potential penetration of voter registration databases" is still possible, he said. "And that in turn can be a vehicle for them to…undermine confidence."

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden calls Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a b---h" on hot mic

President Biden blasted Fox News' Peter Doocy on Monday after the reporter asked if the nation's soaring inflation is a political liability, saying, "what a stupid son of a b----h."

The latest: The president called Doocy Monday evening, the reporter told Fox's Sean Hannity. "He cleared the air and I appreciated it. We had a nice call," Doocy said when asked whether the president apologized, adding: "I don't need anyone to apologize to me."

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker