“We made a decision that we’re going to take pieces of the investigation and roll them out as we conclude them. We’ll have an overview of the (election security) report, recommendations for election security, and an open hearing with federal and state election officials,” Burr said. “It will be an opportunity for us to hear from witnesses” and make changes to the committee’s final report, expected later this year.
“I think you’re going to see us roll things out every 30 days,” Burr added, though he demurred when asked about timing of a final report, making it entirely possible that the panel will be investigating Russian interference through this year’s potentially-pivotal congressional elections.
Warner said of the election cyber-security report, “I think you’re going to see very specific recommendations. The one thing I want to make sure we also try to include is - there’s election security, but one of the most vulnerable entities in our democratic system is a campaign itself. A campaign is the quintessential startup. The notion that they’re going to have the kind of good cyber-hygiene you need — I think that has to be a part of what we at least put out there.”
“You could have enormous influence by manipulating a campaign,” Warner warned.
Some of the Russians were also in contact with “unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign,” according to the indictment, though no wrongdoing was alleged by Mueller on the part of any campaign officials.
“I believe we are now engaged in a fight in the shadows, and I’m not sure that that’s a fight we are currently winning,” Warner warned in his speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “In a national election in a presidential year, what we need to understand is that a presidential election can we swung by a few thousand votes in one state.”
Facebook alone indicated last year that Russian-created, fake content may have reached as many as 126 million people across its platform during the 2016 election.
“The truth is, where we stand here in the beginning of March, we are not prepared. We are not fully prepared,” Warner pointedly cautioned.
Warner’s stark warnings were mere echoes of more grave alarms sounded by some of the nation’s top Intelligence Community officials in recent weeks.
“Clearly what we have done hasn’t been enough,” Rogers, who is set to retire in April, said of Russia’s persistent efforts to interfere.
Warner said the U.S. needs to recognize the amorphous threat, expose Putin’s game plan, and inoculate our society.
“To do that, we need to expose the Russian playbook,” Warner said, adding, “We need to get to the bottom of what happened and we need to do it in a bipartisan fashion. Politicization will only undermine our efforts.”
“The truth is what we experienced was an attack by a foreign nation,” Warner said. “Our tactics have not shifted aggressively enough.”