Russian spies are already opening another volume of crime and perhaps punishment, according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Midterm elections in the U.S., whose intelligence community accused the Kremlin of meddling in the 2016 election to support President Trump, are a target of a repeat effort, Tillerson told Fox News in an interview from Bogota, Colombia.
“”There are a lot of ways the Russians can meddle in the elections, a lot of different tools they can use,” he said.
“We are seeing a number of important elections in this hemisphere this year and leading up as well to the U.S. in 2018.”
The nation’s chief diplomat has repeatedly clashed with Russia on issues such as Syria, even while Trump prefers to downplay the alleged election interference.
“I think it’s important we just continue to say to Russia, ‘Look, you think we don’t see what you’re doing. We do see it and you need to stop. If you don’t, you’re going to just continue to invite consequences for yourself,’” he told Fox.
The U.S. government first alleged Russian interference in the election in October 2016 with a statement, and a sanctions followed from then-President Barack Obama before he left office.
January’s joint intelligence report listed multiple avenues through which Moscow tried to moved opinion, including the hacking of Democratic emails and purposeful inflammation of tensions on social media.
Russian officials as high as President Vladimir Putin have denied any meddling, though other countries reported similar interference and Tillerson warned Mexico this weekend about the possibility.
A hack of centrist French President Emmanuel Macron?s emails during his election was blamed on Russian hackers, and the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD said that Moscow tried to influence its country’s election last year through “fake news.”
The Kremlin, for its part, has accused the U.S. of interfering in its own presidential election in March, which Putin is expected to win easily.