- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 12, 2018

More could be done to deter Russia from meddling in U.S. political elections, a top Department of Justice official told members of Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

Adam Hickey, the deputy assistant attorney general of the department’s National Security Division, testified during a hearing on election interference that the U.S. should “raise the cost” against Russia over its involvement in the 2016 White House race.

“This attack on our democracy will continue, will it not, unless the United States makes Russia pay a price, correct?” asked Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat.

“It warrants a strong response, senator, and I think in this area and others we have to find ways to raise costs of malicious and malign behavior by foreign states,” responded Mr. Hickey “I think you have to raise the costs of the behavior.”

Russian state-sponsored hackers, propagandists and internet trolls disrupted the 2016 election to help boost President Trump over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, according to U.S. officials, rattling the race and worsening relations between the former Cold War foes.

Discussing the Justice Department’s response to committee members Tuesday, Mr. Hickey described a robust range of actions undertaken by both the Obama and Trump administration as a result of Russia’s alleged election meddling, including expelling dozens of diplomatic officers and imposing sanctions on individuals and entities.

“I think we continue to look for ways to raise costs of malign behavior, including influence operations that are illegal,” Mr. Hickey said in response to a question from Sen. Dick Durbin, Illinois Democrat.

In addition to expulsions and sanctions, the Justice Department has unsealed criminal charges against over a dozen Russian nationals accused of participating in the Kremlin-authorized campaign, including employees of the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg-based “troll farm” linked to conducting social media operations aimed at sowing discord during the race.

The U.S. does not maintain an extradition agreement with Russia, however, meaning defendants don’t have to worry about being arrested unless they travel abroad.

The Justice Department plans to issue a public report as soon as next month detailing how to better combat efforts aimed at interfering in U.S. elections, Mr. Hickey said Tuesday.

Mr. Hickey’s remarks mirrored comments made in March by Army Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, Mr. Trump’s pick to lead the National Security Agency.

“Right now, they do not think that much will happen. They don’t fear us. That is not good,” he said with respect to Russian hackers during his confirmation hearing.”

“They haven’t paid a price, at least, that has significantly changed their behavior,” Adm. Mike Rogers, the previous head of the NSA, testified earlier this year.

Russia has repeatedly denied meddling in the 2016 race.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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