FBI Sets Up ‘Foreign Influence’ Task Force To Protect Election System

FBI Director nominee Christopher Wray testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 12, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
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FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress Thursday that the FBI has a “foreign influence” task force to deal with election interference by outside actors.

“I take any effort to interfere with out election system by Russia or any other nation state or non-nation state seriously, because it strikes right at the heart of who we are as a country,” Wray said, in a response to a question about the FBI’s response to Russia’s election meddling by Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY). Wray was appearing at a hearing in front of the House Homeland Security Committee.

“We have a foreign influence task force inside the FBI that brings together difference disciplines of the FBI, because it’s a multidisciplinary problem,” Wray said. “You’ve got a counterintelligence dimension, a cyber dimension, a criminal dimension. We coordinate closely with the [Department of Homeland Security], which has a responsibility for the criminal infrastructure portion.”

He added that the FBI is coordinating with foreign partners as well.

“We can learn from what Russians and others are trying to do with other elections, in terms of trade craft, etc.” Wray said. “We’re trying to get in front of it and be on the lookout for efforts to interfere.”

The FBI’s press office did not respond to TPM’s inquiry as to exactly when the task force was launched and for more details on its operations.

Wray’s comments come after Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on multiple occasions, struggled to tell Congress what the Justice Department was doing to prevent future foreign influence in elections. President Trump has continued to play down Russia’s attempts to meddle in the 2016 campaign, an assessment made by the intelligence community.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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