Russian hackers are currently targeting the US electoral system – and President Donald Trump has not officially asked the NSA how to stop them, agency chief Admiral Mike Rogers said on Tuesday.
"Nobody … asked me directly," Rogers said during a hearing Armed Services Committee hearing. "I gave my opinion in ongoing discussions."
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It is the second time this month that the government's leading intelligence officials have confirmed that the White House has not yet specifically instructed them to cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns that shook the 201
Intelligence agencies have accused the Kremlin of attacking at least 21 states' electoral systems during 2016 and interfering in the Democratic Party campaign and Hillary Clinton's campaign. And last week, Special Adviser Robert Mueller accused more than a dozen Russians who were spreading disinformation in the US during the election to help Trump win the White House.
National security officials regularly warn that these Moscow-controlled online intrusions will be back during the interim elections of 2018, but Congress still has specific legislation to address the issue. The Trump government has also put a stop to Democrats and digital security specialists for not accusing them of strengthening the digital defense of their country's electoral networks.
This criticism came under the spotlight during a Senate hearing earlier this month FBI, NSA and CIA and the National Intelligence Director told lawmakers that Trump had not specifically ordered them to defend themselves against Russian interference.
Rogers revived this narrative on Tuesday, when he both confirmed that Russian hackers are currently turning to American electoral networks and reiterating that he had not been asked for a formal assessment on how to thwart the attacks.
"Yes, sir," he said to Senator Jack Reed, the committee's top Democrat, who asked him if Moscow was actively following US electoral systems.
Rogers added that he gave his opinion on ending these attacks, but "for example, did not write anything".
Rogers also told the jury that he had not been instructed by anyone in the administration to try to stop the Russian hacks at their source.
"We could be asked to do that," Rogers said. "It depends on the specifics, I do not want to promise too much."
Commenting on whether such an operation is legal and could be undertaken by Reed, Rogers replied, "Yes."
repeated Rogers's comments that he and the other intelligence chiefs submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month.
"I can not say that I was purposefully directed to" stop Russian electoral efforts, Rogers said back then
At the hearing on Tuesday, Rogers argued that Moscow had not strayed from its digital attack on American elections because " they did not pay a price … that's enough to make them change their behavior. "  "It has not changed the calculus, that's my purpose," he added.
The NSA chief, who would likely make his last Capitol Hill appearance before his upcoming retirement, stressed that America's cyber retaliation against Moscow should fit a "broader" response to the disruption of the Kremlin's line-up efforts.