April 4, 2018 / 1:39 PM / 9 months ago

U.S. plans more responses to malign Russian activities -Coats

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States plans additional responses to Russian activities that will include a number of steps to defend November congressional elections against meddling from Moscow, the top U.S. intelligence chief said on Wednesday.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said the United States would take more actions in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in England as well as “the entire range of malign Russian activities.”

U.S. President Donald Trump last month ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians from the United States and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle in response to a March 4 attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a military-grade nerve agent.

Moscow has denied responsibility for the attack and has retaliated with its own expulsions.

At a breakfast with reporters, Coats was asked whether Washington would take action beyond kicking out the 60 diplomats.

“This is under considerable consideration and more things will be done, and soon, above where we are right now,” Coats said. “I would just stay tuned on that. I think we are more and more aware of the potential for Russia to continue to engage in any number of ways relative to our elections and a lot of steps are being taken.”

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election to sway the vote to Trump. A federal special counsel is investigating potential collusion by the Trump campaign with Moscow.

Reporting by Jonathan Landay; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Franklin Paul and Bill Trott

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