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by Daveda Gruber:

There was a high-profile hearing of top U.S. intelligence officials who warned lawmakers on Tuesday not to be fooled by North Korea’s diplomatic outreach at the Olympic Games. The dictatorship still represents an “existential threat” to the U.S.

Stories suggesting Pyongyang’s delegation is diplomatically out rating the U.S. are being  flaunted about on some American mainstream media outlets. The media coverage of Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong has led to this outrage by U.S. intelligence officials.

Top officials and lawmakers at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, said nothing has changed from the oppressive regime. They confirmed that North Korea had been ramping up its nuclear program in recent months.

Senator. James Risch, R-Idaho, said, “We’ve all watched over the last week the smile campaign North Korea has inflicted on the South Korean people, the South Korean people seem to have been charmed to some degree, some of them seem to have been captivated by it.”

He added, “From my point of view I think it’s nothing but a stall by the North Koreans to further develop what they’re trying to do and I suspect, in my judgment, we need to be very, very cautious of this.”

Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence agreed with the assessment. He said that North Korea’s aggression was still an “existential threat” potentially to the U.S. and also to North Korea itself.

He also said, “The provocative nature and the instability Kim has demonstrated is potentially a significant threat to the United States. Decision time is coming ever close in terms of how we respond to this.”

Head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, described a “much more deliberate effort” in terms of readiness from Kim as opposed to his father. He also advised that “we should not be misled” by recent events in the Olympics.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo made clear that Kim still looks to threaten the U.S. and that there has been no change in the regime’s outlook despite the diplomatic outreach.

He said, “There is no indication there is any strategic change in the outlook for Kim Jong Un in his desire to retain his nuclear capacity to threaten the United States of America, no change there.”

President Trump has used somewhat aggressive language against the regime by nicknaming Kim “rocket man.”

Successfully guiding a number of rounds of sanctions through the U.N. Security Council, the Trump administration has taken a tougher line against the ‘hermit regime’.

Russia was brought up, as well. The hearing covered extensive ground. The officials warned about the possibility that Russia would look to interfere in the 2018 election cycle.

Coats said, “We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen and other means to influence, to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States. There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful, and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.”

Officials refused to be asked about specifics, but said they would offer more details in a classified session in the afternoon.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had brought these concerns up when he said there was already evidence of Russian attempts to meddle in the 2018 midterms.

Tillerson had said,  “I don’t know that I would say we are better prepared, because the Russians will adapt as well. The point is, if it’s their intention to interfere, they are going to find ways to do that. We can take steps we can take but this is something that, once they decide they are going to do it, it’s very difficult to preempt it.”

So, we have to beware of the Russians? Yes, in a way, we always have to be on guard when it concerns foreign nations of power.

Did the Russians help President Trump win? No!

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