World

CIA chief expects Russia to meddle in US mid-term polls

CIA chief also warns of Chinese meddling and North's nuclear capability

LONDON: Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo said Russia will target the United States mid-term elections later this year as part of the Kremlin's attempt to influence domestic politics across the West, and he warned the world has to do more to push back against Chinese meddling as well.

Russia is accused of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the allegations, which Moscow denies, and if there was any collusion involving US President Donald Trump's associates.

In an interview with the BBC aired yesterday, Mr Pompeo said Russia had a long history of information campaigns and said its threat would not go away.

Asked if Russia would try to influence the mid-term elections, he said: "Of course. I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that."

He also said the Chinese posed a threat of equal concern and are "very active" with a world-class cyber capability.

"We can watch very focused efforts to steal American information and to infiltrate the US with spies, with people who are going to work on behalf of the Chinese government against America," he said.

"We see it in our schools, in our hospitals and medical systems. We see it throughout corporate America. These efforts we have to all be more focused on. We have to do better at pushing back against Chinese efforts to covertly influence the world."

He also repeated his message that North Korea is close to developing missiles that could be used in a nuclear attack on the US.

"I think that we collectively, the US and our intelligence partners around the world, have developed a pretty clear understanding of (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un's capability," Mr Pompeo said.

"We talk about him having the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon to the US in a matter of a handful of months."

Mr Pompeo also defended Mr Trump over accusations from a book that suggested the President is unfocused, unprepared and unfit for his office.

"It is absurd, the claim that the President is not engaged and does not have a grasp on these important issues is dangerous and false," Mr Pompeo said.

Asked if Mr Trump's use of Twitter posed any national security issues, he said: "Has not caused us any trouble." - REUTERS

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