FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday warned Russia remains “absolutely intent” on meddling in next year’s elections and named China as the greatest national security threat facing the country today.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wray said that the Russian election interference efforts are still operating at full force. While the Homeland Security Department is working to lock down the country’s election infrastructure, the FBI is focused on combating the misinformation and influence campaigns the Russians are waging online.
Wray said the FBI is working with federal agencies and the private sector to raise awareness about Russian misinformation, including social media ads, and to combat the country’s attempt to sway the electorate. Relatedly, he said the bureau is also working with the private sector to fight the spread of deepfakes, which he called a major concern for FBI leadership.
The hearing quickly turned to China and the FBI’s strategy for fighting the country’s multifront campaign to improve its own economy at the expense of the U.S.
“There is no country that poses a more severe counterintelligence threat to this country right now than China,” Wray told lawmakers. “That’s saying a lot, and I don’t say it lightly.”-
The FBI is conducting more than 1,000 investigations into intellectual property theft and economic espionage nationwide, “almost all leading back to China,” Wray said. Given the size and scope of the country’s espionage tactics, which run the gamut from cyberattacks to corruption of company executives, the U.S. must use every tool in its arsenal to combat the threats, according to Wray.
“It’s a threat that’s deep and diverse and wide and vexing,” he said. “Make no mistake, this is a high, high priority for all of us.”