US gave French 'heads up' about Russia's election meddling, NSA director says

"We had become aware of Russian activity," Rogers said.

May 9, 2017, 4:27 PM

— -- National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers said the U.S. government gave French officials “a heads up” that they observed Russian infiltration in their presidential election systems before the interference was made public.

The remark came during testimony by Rogers -– acting in his role as commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and chief of the Central Security Service -– as a witness before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the posture of U.S. cyber-command on Tuesday.

"We had become aware of Russian activity. We had talked to our French counterparts prior to the public announcements of the events that were publicly attributed this past week and [we] gave them a heads up," explained Rogers.

Revealing the interaction for the first time, Rogers recalled the message from U.S. officials during their conversation notifying the French of what they’d observed: "'Look, we're watching the Russians. We're seeing them penetrate some of your infrastructure. Here's what we've seen. What can we do to try to assist?’”

"We're doing similar things with our German counterparts, with our British counterparts,” he added. “They have an upcoming election sequence.”

Later, Rogers said he agreed with several points made by FBI Director James Comey in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week involving Russia’s continued and possible future meddling in the U.S. political system.

When asked by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., if Rogers concurred with Comey that Russia is still interfering in American politics, he replied, “yes.”

The NSA director said also agreed that Russia has the greatest capability and intent among nation-states for future interference, and that while Democrats were targeted by Russia in 2016, they could switch aim to Republicans in the next election.

“I would argue this is not about politics, this is not about party; this is about an effort against the strategic interest of every citizen of this nation,” he added.

Rogers also agreed that Russia’s interference could reach beyond the presidential election to House and Senate races, and that if someone doesn’t pay a price, the Russian are going to keep meddling in American politics.

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