NSA director says Trump hasn’t ‘granted the authority’ to stop Russian election interference

"I don't have the day-to-day authority to do that."


Less than two weeks after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 individuals and a trio of Russian companies for “interference operations targeting the United States,” NSA Director Mike Rogers told members of Congress that the Trump administration hasn’t even authorized him to take measures to prevent election meddling going forward.

In response to a question from Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) about the authority that NSA “mission teams” have to “do something” about foreign interference, Rogers pointed out that he’s only empowered to do something when “if granted the authority.”

“I don’t have the day-to-day authority to do that,” he said, prompting Reed to follow up about whether he has been “directed to do so given the strategic threat that face the united States and the significant consequences you recognize already?”

“No I have not,” Rogers replied.

During another portion of his testimony, Rogers told Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) that the United States is “taking steps but probably not doing enough” to prevent election meddling.


After McCaskill asked him why more isn’t being done, Rogers said, “I’m just an operational commander, ma’am, you’re asking me a question that’s so much bigger than me.”

During the White House press briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn’t take issue with any specific aspect of Rogers’ testimony. Instead, she characterized election interference as nothing more than a historical concern, and tried to pin blame on former President Obama.

“Look, this president as I told you last week has been much tougher on Russia than his predecessor. Let’s not forget that this happened under Obama,” she said.

Trump’s refusal to do anything to prevent election meddling comes despite his CIA director, Mike Pompeo, saying recently that he expects Russia to make another attempt to meddle in this year’s election.

“I haven’t seen a significant decrease in their activity,” Pompeo said.

The CIA director made that statement in late January — right around the same time that the State Department announced it would not be imposing new sanctions on Russia that were overwhelming approved by Congress last year.


During an interview with Wolf Blitzer following Rogers’ testimony, Reed characterized the Trump administration’s refusal to direct the NSA to disrupt Russian threats as “very difficult to explain.”

“Admiral Rogers said very directly that we are currently being attacked by Russian-directed cyber forces,” Reed said. “Their intent is to disrupt the election. They’re much more sophisticated than they were in 2016, they’ve learned a lot, and they’re coming in and it’s going to get worse before the election. And yet, he has not been asked to take action. He has the ability to disrupt these activities at the source.”

Asked about Trump’s refusal to implement sanctions, Reed said Trump “might be afraid that if he recognizes the fact and imposes punishment on Russia for their current activities, that will undercut his version of the 2016 events — that there was no Russian involvement, he won the election simply based upon his policies and his promises and his programs, and the reality is different.”

“The danger — not only the danger, the reality — is that while nothing is done the Russians become more aggressive, threatening our basic insitutions. Nothing is more basic than a free election in the United Staters or anywhere else, and they’re doing it deliberately.”

Indeed, following Mueller’s indictment of the Russian individuals and companies, Trump’s response has been to blame Obama for Russian interference while reiterating that in his view, it didn’t affect the outcome of the election.

Rogers testimony came on the same day as a new CNN poll indicating that 60 percent of Americans don’t think Trump is doing enough to prevent election interference.